Coin collecting seems to run in cycles with different specialties being active and then fading away. Has this always been the case? Nowadays gold and silver bullion seem to dominate.
If you remember 1980, the present time doesn’t seem unusual. However, as to which niches go in and out of popularity, numismatics like other hobbies, have run in cycles. One of the earliest in U.S. coin collecting was the search for half cent varieties from the last decade of the 1700s, when quite a number of mules and other oddities were struck specifically for collectors. During the era of 1859-1867, Washingtonian items were popular. During the Civil War era, the fad was collecting storecards and political items. World War I saw patterns and Pioneer gold. There were large cents in several periods, medals up to the mid-1950s, and foreign series and silver bars in the 1970s. A good case could be made for “follow the leader” collecting.
I have a coin that has a large X across it. Is this from a canceled die?
This is an assumption that a lot of collectors make. From your description, you have a coin that has been altered by cutting the lines in the coin metal. Especially on a worn coin, the metal gouged out will usually be flattened down somewhat, so that it covers the cuts, giving it the appearance of having been struck with a canceled die. However, if you examine the coin closely with a magnifier, you will be able to find places where the original cut may still show. Coin dies are very rarely canceled in this fashion and when a die is canceled, it is with a deep groove that will leave a very high solid ridge across the face of the piece, not a low, rounded ridge as in the case of an altered coin.
What’s the story on the reeded 1937 U.S. cents and nickels?
Three hundred sets of the coins were reeded, possibly by a Mint employee. The reed- ing was done after the coins were struck and probably outside the Mint. The work was not authorized by the Mint and con- stitutes an alteration of the coins. Ira Reed had the coins reeded and brought them to the 1941 American Numismatic Association convention where they were sold. In 1960 a pair of the coins sold at auction for $87.50, but they have since been discredited as not being Mint prod- ucts. They were altered after being struck, using at least three different knurling tools, making them virtually impossible to authenticate as “original” pieces. The statement stands – there are no genuine Mint-produced modern reeded cents or nickels of any date.