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Fairchild thought silver dollars


Did the Treasury Department resist striking Morgan dollars?

Many times, but the silver lobby was too powerful. Secretary of the Treasury Charles T. Fairchild in his 1887 annual report said, “It is a waste to coin and store any more silver dollars at present. There is no function which those that are coined after this time will probably ever perform, except to lie in Government vaults and be a basis upon which Silver Certificates can be issued. The five, two and one dollar Certificates furnish a convenient currency, and it is evident that the future use of the silver dollar will be almost exclusively in that form.”

I know that over the centuries a lot of bells were melted down and turned into coins, and that there have been instances in the past of coins being melted down to cast as bells, but have there been any recent instances of bells made of coin metal?

The Peace Bell is one, presented to the United Nations in 1954. The bell was cast from coins donated by delegates from some 60 countries who attended the 13th general conference of the U.N. associations in Paris in 1951. The bell is hung in the U.N. headquarters in New York.

What does seigniorage really mean? I’ve heard several definitions.

In general it means the profit for the government produced by striking coins. It’s the difference between the actual cost of producing a coin and the face value. It comes from the French seigneurage, “right of the lord.” Simply put, it’s the paper profit made on the difference between face value of a coin and actual production cost.

How does a screw press work?

The upper die is attached to a large threaded shaft that has a long arm attached at the top. The arm was swung rapidly to screw the die down onto the planchet. The first ones were operated by hand, then later by horse, steam or water power.


How accurate were the old scales that you see on display at the Mint?

These tremendous balance beam scales were made right in the Mint tool shop by old time skilled craftsmen who took pride in their work. I have seen demonstrated the fact that a scale that can handle hundreds of pounds of coins can also show the weight of a single digit written on a sheet of paper.

Address questions to Coin Clinic, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Because of space limitations, we are unable to publish all questions. Include a loose 42-cent stamp for reply. Write first for specific mailing instructions before submitting numismatic material. We cannot accept unsolicited items. E-mail inquiries should be sent to Answerman2@aol.com.

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