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Pan-Pac $50 eight-sided

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Has the U.S. issued any eight-sided coins?

A coin that falls into this class is the Panama-Pacific $50 commemorative, issued in 1915. The 1852 $50 struck by the United States Assay Office of Gold technically fits as well. The Humbert $50 of 1851-1852, and a number of the California Territorial coins are also octagonal.

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I have a copper uniface piece with the “Washington Born Virginia” design. Is this an original strike?

It probably is one of the restrikes made in the early 1960s by Albert Collis, a coin dealer in Massachusetts who obtained the original obverse die and reportedly struck some 2,000 uniface pieces.

What is a “solid” electrotype?

Electrotypes are copies of a coin or medal, made by making a mold of each side of the original and then plating the surface of the mold with copper or silver. These thin “shells” were then removed and filled with some base metal, and joined together with solder or cement. A solid electrotype is one that continued the plating process until the inside of the mold was completely filled with the plating metal.

There’s a 1794 large cent that has what is nicknamed the “office boy” reverse. Why the title?

Because the die looks like the office boy cut it while the engraver was out to lunch. The wreath is not symmetrical with variations in the depth of the leaves, and the “N” in “ONE” was cut upside-down and then corrected.

Several 1815 quarters are known with an “E” stamped into them. Was this done at the Mint?

Denis Loring has a better answer than mine in a previous column: “The letters ‘E’ and ‘L’ are known on both 1815 B-1 and 1825 B-2 quarters, but ‘R’ is unknown on any date. No one knows why the coins were countermarked, nor whether the Mint did it.”

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