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Portland

Clinic0729a.jpgIs it true that a coin flip decided the name of Portland, Ore.?

It was the best two out of three, and Portland won over Boston, when two Yankees flipped a large cent over their favorite name in 1835. The two owners of the town site, Lovejoy of Massachusetts wanted Boston and Pettygrove from Maine wanted Portland. The flipped coin was an 1835 large cent. Pettygrove, and later his son, carried it as a pocket piece.

Please explain the system for the French “L’An” dated coins?

Following the French Revolution of  1789, L’An I was the “First Year of Liberty,” beginning on Bastille Day, July 14, 1789. The succeeding years were numbered up until l’An 14 (1805) when the numbering system (now two years off) was canceled by Napoleon on Dec. 31. The Gregorian calendar was resumed on Jan. 1, 1806.

Is there any logical explanation for the fairly frequent appearance of holed dollars of the very early years?

One credible reason given is that the coins were used as “teethers” for babies since they were too large to be readily swallowed. A rather expensive “toy” back in the days when a dollar was a dollar. Of course, after the baby had outgrown the need the string was removed and the dollar went back into circulation. It was little the worse for wear other than the hole, which didn’t detract from its face value.

Does the abbreviation A.N.C. also mean the same as B.C. or B.C.E.?

This is an obscure, seldom-used abbreviation for the Latin “Ante Nativitatem Christi,” or “before the birth of Christ.”

How many times did the Liberty Bell crack?

It came originally from a British firm in Whitechapel. It was cast in 1752, cracking on the first stroke after arriving at Independence Hall. Pass and Stowe recast it in 1753, adding 1.5 ounces per pound of bell weight of copper. It cracked a second time three months later. It cracked the third time July 8, 1835, tolling the death of Chief Justice John Marshall. It was tapped with a rubber mallet for a D-day broadcast on June 6, 1944, which was the last time it has been rung.


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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