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Brenner design echoes Standing Liberty

This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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Did Victor D. Brenner have something to do with the design for the Standing Liberty quarters of 1916?

While there is no evidence to link him directly with Hermon A. MacNeil’s controversial design, there is a startlingly similar medal by Brenner that was used beginning in 1902 as an annual award by the Art Institute of Chicago for the best painting by an American artist.

2011 U.S. Coin Digest
2011 U.S. Coin Digest

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Will you buy the pictures I have of the minting variety I discovered?

Instead of reporting his find, the discoverer went to a commercial photographer and spent a substantial sum to have the coin photographed. This was a total waste as the coin itself has to be examined to authenticate the minting variety. In nearly every case, commercial photos do not meet our requirements.

Why the name “Immune Columbia” for the early U.S. coin?

The purpose was a form of propaganda for the time. The motto translates freely to Columbia (America) being immune from the rest of the world’s problems, especially those of Europe.

What is a fip?

Fip and another term, levy, were slang terms tracing to the “border states” used for the Spanish coins still in circulation up to the outbreak of the Civil War. Fip was short for “five-penny-bit” or a half of a real. Levy in turn was short for “eleven-penny-bit” or real, which was worth 12.5 cents in American coin. The names were common to the area of southern New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.


Is it true that the State of Ohio once took $100,000 in specie from the Federal government by force?

In the 1820s, after Ohio passed a law assessing a 4 percent tax on banks doing business in the state, The Bank of the United States claimed exemption for its Cincinnati and Chillicothe branches. After the bank caused a financial panic by discounting bills for property, Ohio decided to enforce its law and the Chillicothe sheriff entered the bank and seized $100,000 in specie.

Why does Canada continue to use the portrait of the English king or queen on its coins? I thought the country is independent of Britain?

While Canada is indeed an “independent member of the British Commonwealth of Nations,” that is not the reason why Canada uses the portrait of the British ruler. It is solely because the British ruler happens also to be queen of Canada, as Canadians have opted to have her as their head of state. This is also true for New Zealand and Australia.

When did the Mint begin using a machine to package the mint sets?

A machine that assembled the sets and sealed each coin in an individual compartment was installed by the Cash Division of the Treasury Department in 1959. Although my source doesn’t indicate, I believe that this machine actually was installed at the New York Assay Office or was moved there shortly afterward. Prior to 1959, the Mint furnished two coins of each denomination and mint in the sets.

In going through my collection of cents, I noticed that there are several different sizes and styles of digits. Wouldn’t they do better to stay with one design?

This is one of the few areas of coin design that is actively kept from being dull and boring. For most of this century, the Mint has made a general practice of changing the date font at the beginning of each new decade.

In your books you use a PDS system for listing and cataloging minting varieties and errors. Recently I saw a reference to a PDSO system. Is this something different?

The PDS system that I originated back in 1971 was based on the three major divisions of the minting process: planchet, die and striking. It was expanded in 1984 by adding “O” for official Mint modifications – such as the $2.50 gold with “CAL” and the numerous official counterstamps and countermarks – but it never caught on.


Correction: In the Aug. 17 Coin Clinic, Harry Forman and Bill Fivaz’s names were misspelled. My apologies for the mistakes.

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