In a constant search for the unusual in numismatics, I often come across counterstamped or engraved coins which sometimes are easy to understand, and at other times are totally inexplicable.
Users of my better-known catalogs, Standard Catalog of U.S. Tokens 1700-1900, Latin American Tokens 1700-1960 and Medallic Portraits of Washington, will be familiar with these books? unraveling of many mysteries applied (outside the Mint) to U.S. and world coins.
A number of researchers with similar interests continuously supply me with newly discovered items or fresh data on published mavericks (unattributed items). Two of the best of these contributors are Bruce R. Mosher and Army Major Michael MacAllister. To Bruce Mosher goes the credit for our smiling sunface Walking Liberty half dollar dated 1945.
A coin dealer in Pitman, N.J., put this piece aside for Mosher. Bruce photographed it and sent it along first to Gregory G. Brunk, the Iowa expert on countermarked coins, before sending a photo enlargement to me.
Brunk made a ?guesstimate? that it was privately engraved for some long-forgotten purpose, but possibly to commemorate the conclusion of World War II in 1945. The coin, as readers can see from the photo, was well worn before it was altered. This means the half dollar was rescued from circulation well after 1945 as the ?smileyface? shows much less wear.
Carrying the guess further, it could have been altered in 1965 as silver coins began disappearing from trade channels and a World War II veteran looked back in nostalgia to both the horrors and glory of our battle to destroy the Axis powers 20 years earlier. Germany surrendered in May 1945 and Japan in September.
If readers want to weigh in on the possible significance of this coin, just write to Russ Rulau, Krause Publications, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.