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Quarter eagle declared

Was there any special reason why they stopped minting the $2.50 gold quarter eagle in 1930?

The Treasury Department reported to Congress that the coin was not circulating, and “is easily confused with the new one cent piece.” A curious piece of language since the Lincoln cent had been in circulation for two decades and the same size cent since 1857, or about 72 years. Minting stopped in 1929, and Congress passed the Act of April 11, 1930, ending the denomination.


Old-timers in the hobby swear that there is an 1804 half dollar. As evidence they cite the Mint figure of 160,000 for that year, and the well-known 1805/4 overdate. Were the latter coins returned to the Mint and overstruck with a new date?

A hard story to kill, but it’s completely untrue. As with the 1804 dollar, the mintage figures were for 1803 coins struck in 1804. The overdate results from a re-punching or re-engraving of an unused 1804 die to make it into an 1805. Contrary to all the old wives’ tales about overdates, the change is in the die, not the coin.

Is it true that many of the first Congressional Medals of Honor were recalled?

The medal was authorized in 1862. In 1916 a board investigated 2,625 awards and decided that 911 – about a third – had not been properly earned. If the holder of the medal was still in the military, it was recalled and canceled.


How did Washington’s Medal of Merit become the Purple Heart medal?

At first it was a badge of merit rather than a medal. It was made of cloth, purple and heart-shaped with the word “MERIT” printed on it. The award languished, but the design was later incorporated into the Purple Heart medal that is awarded to those wounded or killed in combat.


The reports that appear from time to time about some old coin being found with a new variety sound fishy to me. How is it possible for things like that to escape detection?

That it can happen is quite probable and not at all as unusual or suspect as you might think. That it is a “new” variety is another question, since many such discoveries have been made, forgotten, re-made, again forgotten or never reported. Or, as often happens, they are overlooked in the flush of excitement of the find. I’ve gotten sandbagged several times with “new” reports that turned out to be listed somewhere else.


What would you call a counterfeit of a piece that itself is a fantasy piece?

It’s still a counterfeit, even if modeled after a dreamed-up piece that was never legally issued. Just goes to show that if something – anything – has value, somebody will try to profit by counterfeiting it.


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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