I have encountered several of the 1855 Blake & Company $20 gold coin replicas. Where did these originate, and is it known how many of these replicas were made?
The copies of which you write were produced in 1969 for Chrysler Corporation as part of its “Gold Duster” car promotion. I am unaware if the mintage figures for these replicas is known. For many years it was supposed that there were two known genuine gold composition examples, each of these weighing 32.9 grams. One is in the Smithsonian Institution, while the other is in a private coin collection. The brass Chrysler replicas weigh less. Current scholarship indicates that the originals were fantasy issues and were made long after the Gold Rush period.
Why aren’t these Blake & Company $20 replicas marked as copies?
The Chrysler Corporation Gold Duster coin replicas were made in 1969 and perhaps 1970. The Hobby Protection Act was enacted in 1973. Any replicas of a coin made since that time is required by law to be marked prominently and permanently with the word “Copy.”
I’ve seen some coins offered for sale on a website originating in China where the coins were marked as copies. However when I purchased some of the coins the pieces I received weren’t marked. How can they get away with this?
This is one of the problems the coin collecting hobby and business is facing today. What you just described is a clear violation of the Hobby Protection Act. Any such legislation is difficult to police outside the United States, but even within the U.S. it becomes difficult to enforce if law enforcement isn’t given appropriate funding and allowed to impose severe penalties for violations.
Who should I contact if I encounter a violation of the Hobby Protection Act?
Contact the Division of Enforcement, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission at 600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC 20580.
Are designs of U.S. coins copyrighted or trademarked?
The U.S. Mint owns the copyright on many of the modern circulating and commemorative coin designs that it has issued. The copyright symbol does not appear on the coins themselves, but does appear in the marketing materials circulated for the Mint. The names of many of the Mint’s proof and mint set products are trademarked. Any questions regarding copyright or trademark infringements should be directed to the deputy chief counsel of the United States Mint at 801 Ninth Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20220.
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