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Gold double eagle too large to be practical

Why didn’t the U.S. Mint strike any $20 gold coins until 1849?

There simply was no need for that large a coin in an era when a day’s wages were counted in cents rather than dollars. A $20 coin would have been equal to several month’s wages for most people, so there was no point in making them. Even when the economy reached the point where the coin had some practical purpose, that purpose was merely to provide banks with an easy to handle bulk coin that could be stored to serve as a reserve to back the business. Even in the heyday of the $20 gold piece there were few people who could afford, or needed, to carry even one or two of the coins in their pocket.


Why was the 1845-0 quarter eagle first described as “Unlisted in the Mint Director’s Report,” and then given a mintage figure of 4,000?

The coin was not listed originally in the director’s report because it was struck in January of 1846 and included with the coins of that year. A search of the Mint archives discovered a delivery by the coiner of 4,000 pieces on Jan. 22, 1846, which happened to be two days before the 1846 dies arrived from Philadelphia. The coin was apparently unknown until B. Max Mehl gave it some publicity after worn specimens turned up in the 1950s.

How many of the three-coin sets of 1979 and 1980 “P,” “D” and “S” Anthony dollars were made by the Mint?

This is a recurring question and one that I have referred several times to the Mint without being able to get an answer.


If there are only “four known” proof 1804 $10 gold pieces, why isn’t it more valuable than the “15 known” 1804 silver dollar?

There are many similar puzzles throughout numismatics, and the simple answer in many cases is publicity. The 1804 dollar has been in the spotlight for so long that reaching for the checkbook is a reflex action when one is mentioned. The rarity of the proof $10 gold of 1804 just hasn’t had enough publicity to catch the public fancy.

Why didn’t early U.S. collectors pay any attention to mintmarks?

In the beginning, there weren’t any mintmarks. Collectors then were slow to recognize a distinction when they were added. Mintage figures often were unavailable and the Philadelphia Mint dominated the interest of collectors. The other mints, while of local interest, rarely influenced collecting in any way.

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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