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‘O’ mint built on political foundation

This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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Was the New Orleans Mint a political or production necessity?

Purely political, as indicated by strenuous opposition from Philadelphia Mint Director Samuel Moore. Several times he pointed out in his reports that his mint had ample capacity to fill coinage needs and argued against New Orleans, Charlotte and Dahlonega. The log rolling of the day resembles current congressional practices in establishing and maintaining military bases in the home districts.

Are there a lot of counterfeit coins in collector’s hands?

It seems there are substantial numbers. In 1977, when coins the Organization of International Numismatists used in educational seminars were stolen, they were replaced in a matter of days by donations from dealers and collectors. For the record, it is illegal to possess, sell, trade or otherwise dispose of a counterfeit coin, which should be turned in to the Secret Service.

I have a quarter with no date. Has this been reported?

You are one of several asking the same question. There is raised coin metal where the date should be and missing letters on the reverse at the same point. This is a major die break, and the coin is worth $40-$50. This has happened several times since 1965 on the quarters.

I have a gold medal originally issued to a Charter Member of a private mint collector group. What is it worth?

Bad news. The piece is not gold. It’s sterling silver, gold-plated, with a reputed mintage of over 80,000, so its current value is probably less than the current price of an ounce of silver.

Were can I get a good picture of Ben Franklin to go with an exhibit?

Try a $100 Federal Reserve Note or check with your local school as they usually have Ben, Old Abe and George hanging around. A book store ought to be able to help too. Then, try the Internet.

Recently I discovered that I have a 1977 cent that has the last two digits of different shapes. Is this unusual?

When the Mint prepared the master die for 1977, they used the “197” from the previous year and added a “7” that was slightly different in shape. All of the 1977 cents have this feature, so nothing is added to the numismatic value of the coin.

I have a Jimmy Carter medal issued by the U.S. Mint that appears to be a proof. What was the issue price?

The piece, which was the first proof in the Presidential Medal series, cost $2 over the counter and $2.50 by mail when first issued. The entire series, covering all the Presidents from Washington to today, is still available.

Are there restrikes of the Bechtler gold coins?

Restrikes do exist, believed made by Philadelphia coin dealer Henry Chapman from original dies in the 1900-1910 period. Very few are known to exist.


Is the coin press that the Bechtlers used to strike gold coins in North Carolina still in existence?

The very crude screw press used by the Bechtlers and some of the dies were given to the American Numismatic Society in 1927 by Julius Guttag of New Rochelle, N.Y. The press was displayed at the time in the ANS museum in New York. Today the ANS says that the press is on loan to the U.S. Mint and is on exhibit at the Charlotte, N.C., Mint museum.

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 44-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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