Please explain the symbolism involved in the Saint-Gaudens design on the U.S. $20 gold?
The intended symbolism of the design is to show the Goddess of Liberty holding the Torch of Knowledge with one foot placed on the Rock of Truth, while behind her the Sun of Righteousness is rising.
Would you please explain the purpose and use of a touchstone?
The touchstone was a very valuable tool back in the days before accurate methods of assaying were developed. The touchstone was a piece of rock upon which pieces of bullion of a known fineness were rubbed, leaving a streak of the metal. Then the coin or other object to be tested was rubbed on the stone, and the two streaks were compared to match the fineness. In the hands of an expert the touchstone was claimed to be accurate to less than 1 percent, or 0.010 fine.
When did they first begin offering “processed” 1943 steel cents to the hobby?
As nearly as I can determine, there were no advertised offers of processed or “reprocessed” coins before about 1962, although it is quite possible that smaller quantities were processed locally before any large-scale advertising was done. The method involved stripping and replating the zinc on the steel core, so they are actually altered coins.
In an old magazine I saw an ad for Jefferson nickels sold with “shaved” or“unshaved” chin. What’s the explanation?
I suspect your source is from the 1960s when anything and everything out of the ordinary on a coin had a nickname and a corresponding price. In this instance, the “unshaved” design was from a worn die with a roughened surface from contact with the abrasive nickel alloy. Value over face, now that we know more about minting – zero.
An old catalog that I found lists the 1955 dimes as “speculative.” What does that mean?
The speculative label was a warning that was attached to the 1955 dimes struck at all three of the mints before the exact mintages were known. For several reasons, including the knowledge that the San Francisco Mint was being shut down, a large number of speculators were hoarding the dimes. If all of the coins were dumped back on the market, the prices would have collapsed.
Was all of the Mint’s tremendous hoard of silver dollars stored at the Treasury Department?
The vaults at the Denver Mint had also been used to store the coins and when heavy distribution began in the early 1960s, several Texas banks were supplied with bags of uncirculated 1886, 1888 and 1889 dollars from Denver.
How many proof Peace dollars were struck?
Walter Breen lists two satin finish and five matte proofs for 1921, and another five matte proofs for 1922. The exact mintage figures are unknown, and there are conflicting guesses.
What is a “keg-rubbed” coin?
Keg-rubbed is an obsolete term that old-timers in the hobby might remember. Referring to an earlier form of bag marks, the rubs resulted from the transport of kegs of coins – the common method of handling them in bulk – in the early 1800s.