Just as the Buffalo nickels have their horns as a grading indicator, the Indian Head cents were often graded by the number of diamonds showing on the Indian’s headdress. There are four diamonds on the hair ribbon, which happens to be the first point to show wear. If you use them to grade a coin, use a magnifier to make sure that someone hasn’t sharpened up the diamonds with an engraving tool to enhance the grade.
Is it true that a substantial number of proof sets were lost in the mail back in the 1960s?
The year was 1964, and according to published reports 36,086 sets failed to reach the address they were supposed to be sent to. Since this apparently was a perennial problem, the Mint had a reserve of 20,000 sets, both to cover mail losses and sets with imperfect, damaged or missing coins, but the replacement supply was quickly exhausted and some 16,000 collectors got refunds instead of the sets they had ordered.
How many grades does a hole drop a coin?
Despite frequent “graded” descriptions of holed coins, as a practical matter a punched or drilled hole will drop a coin into the filler or cull class, although this doesn’t stop collectors from going after a rarity. An exception is the coin on a defective planchet, often worth substantially more than its numismatic grade value.
Do you know the legend that surrounds the disappearance of the 1847 Hawaii cents?
The reverse design of the 1847 cent includes a wreath of ohelo leaves and berries. This is a plant that grows on the slopes of the Kilauea volcano. The connection was enough to make the coins popular as a substitute sacrifice to Pele, goddess of fire, believed to live in the volcano. As a result, large quantities of the cents were thrown into the volcano. Supposedly this is the reason for their scarcity.
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Somewhere I read that there were less than two dozen coin dealers in the United States at the turn of the century. Is that figure accurate?
Narrowing it down even further, my source says there were “21 coin dealers in the United States in 1900.” Looking at today’s multitudes one would have to call it a growing hobby.
You mentioned a Roman coin nicknamed a “two hundreth.” Wasn’t that the original name for the U.S. half cent?
The reference was to a commemorative coin issued to mark the end of a sales tax of a two hundreth in 49 A.D. by Claudius. Some of the Latin scholars among our forefathers may have known of the reference, because the cent was originally titled the hundredth, and the half cent the two hundreth.
Is it true that there have been times when Canadian banks refused to accept U.S. coins?
This happened several times between the U.S. Civil War and World War I. So many U.S. silver coins were shipped to Canada during the Civil War that the banks refused them because the Canadian dollar at the time was worth more than the U.S. dollar.