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Mint took a while to stop SBA production

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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When did the Mint read the writing on the wall and suspend production of the Susan B. Anthony dollar?

Exactly when they woke up and smelled the coffee is still a mystery, but production was “temporarily” halted March 31, 1980, with some 850 million in the vaults. Production was resumed briefly in 1999.


Didn’t you give Francis Spinner the wrong title?

In the July 20 Coin Clinic, I got Francis Spinner’s jobs mixed up. Rather than being Secretary of the Treasury, he was the Treasurer of the United States. My thanks to the reader who caught this.

If Templeton Reid never left Georgia, how come some of his (privately issued) coins bear the words, “California Gold?”

Reed may have left Georgia, but he never was in California, to set the record straight. He struck the coins on gold brought back to the East by prospectors from the California gold fields. Reed purchased the gold, then made the dies to match the source.

Were there proof versions of both kinds of 1867 nickels struck?

A very limited number of proofs of the “with rays” version were struck in proof. R.W. Julian estimates “two or three dozen,” while Breen says “25+.” There were considerably more proofs of the new design that dropped the rays – Breen estimates more than 600.

Were the three-cent nickel proofs sold individually when they were introduced in 1865?

They were sold as a set with the cent and two-cent, for 15 cents.

What is a “plug” die?

In answering this question, there is a need to exercise the always-needed care in spelling numismatic terms. A plugged die is one that has had a portion of the face drilled out and replaced with a plug, as when a digit in a date has to be changed. The term “plug” as applied to a die was a stumper until I finally ran across a description using the term. In the cited case, the piece was called a plug, not a plug die, and for good reason as the plug is what we call a hub, which is the tool that carries the coin design in relief, just as it appears on the coin. The hub, or plug, is a mirror image of the die, which has the design incuse in its face.


Has it ever been determined what the significance is of the 94 stars on the 1794 starred reverse cent?

No specific reason for the stars has been found. Dr. Sheldon noted that they were probably the result of some idle time at the Mint. The number has no apparent importance other than to complete the design.

The movie star Adolph Menjou had a big coin collection. When was it sold?

The auction was held June 15-17, 1950, by Numismatic Gallerie. Many of the coins were stars in their own right, and still crop up with Menjou’s name attached in current auctions.

E-mail inquiries to AnswerMan2@aol.com. Because of space limitations, we are unable to publish all questions.

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