Readers: What can you tell us about this stickered Kennedy half dollar featuring Chicago Cubs pitchers Kerry Wood, Mark Prior and Greg Maddux? If you know who issued it, when and why, email email@example.com.
Why were early accounts in the late 1700s figured in 90ths of a dollar?
It was all due to the rate of exchange. The U.S. dollar equaled the Spanish dollar (8 reales) in value, and it in turn was equal to 90 pence in English coins. There were 240 pence in the pound sterling (12 pence to a shilling and 20 shillings to the pound).
It seems hard to believe, but wasn’t heating a coin once part of the authentication process?
Hard to believe, but very true. From early descriptions of authentication prior to World War II, it was common practice to heat a coin to a level above the melting point of solder, to determine if the coin could be separated. This was a check for some of the deceptive soldered electrotypes. If not done properly, this could easily lead to the coin later being rejected as having been in a fire, and it would certainly speed up the oxidation process for copper and copper alloys. This heads the list of “don’t try this at home” items.
I’m told that oak or cedar should never be used for boxes or cabinets to store coins. Can you tell me why?
These two woods and probably some others have natural oils that in contact with coins, medals or tokens will cause them to tone an ugly dark color. Mahogany is an exception as it is safe to use. Some years ago the U.S. Mint at San Francisco had problems with coins that contained copper turning a golden color, eventually traced to the wooden storage boxes used for the proof coins. A switch to plastic solved the problem.