• seperator

Verbal order sent half mintmark to reverse

Why were the mintmarks moved on the 1917 half dollars?

On Feb. 14, 1917, Mint Director F.J.H. von Engelken verbally ordered the mintmarks be changed from the obverse to the reverse of the half dollar. In April, the Philadelphia Mint Superintendent Adam M. Joyce wrote to the new Mint director, Raymond T. Baker, asking written confirmation of the order, to be back-dated to Feb. 14. In a second letter, Joyce quoted von Engelken, “The mint mark on the obverse … had the appearance of a defect in the die and was entirely too prominent.” This occurred after the delivery of one lot of dies to San Francisco. On April 14, 1917, Baker wrote back, incorporating von Engelken’s verbal order into the written record.


Who designed the Columbian half dollar?

Charles E. Barber designed the obverse, and George T. Morgan did the reverse.

Have you ever heard of a “roller” edge die?

The only reference I’ve seen was in a questionable account of the application of edge lettering to medals in the manufacturing plant of a private mint. The description of the process is inaccurate enough that I’d want specific confirmation that such a method exists, a point upon which one or more of our readers may be of assistance.
I strongly suspect that the reference was a garbled description of the process of rolling planchets through a slotted edge die to impress the letters or design.


How long have we had the general verbal grade classifications – good, very good, fine, very fine, etc.?

The verbal grade classifications are well over a century old, with most of the basic verbal grades pretty well established by the 1880s. I also said that the current numeric grades were introduced in the early 1980s. However, reader John tells me that he used numeric grades (then called “Quantitative Grades”) in a February 1969 catalog that he did for the Numismatic Association of Southern California, which moves the numeric grades back more than a decade.

Please explain what is meant by the “D/S” listing on a ’50-D quarter offered for sale.

This means that it is a variety classed as an over mintmark: a “D” mintmark punched into the die over the “S” mintmark so that portions of both letters show. There is another variety for the 1950 quarters with the reverse effect – the “S” is punched over the “D.” Both command a substantial premium over the regular mintmarked coins.

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.

More Resources:

2010 U.S. Coin Digest, The Complete Guide to Current Market Values, 8th ed.

State Quarters Deluxe Folder By Warmans

Standard Guide to Small-Size U.S. Paper Money, 1928 to Date

Strike It Rich with Pocket Change, 2nd Edition

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