Author Archives: Alan Herbert

Key area on 1864 cent is hair ribbon

Just as the Buffalo nickels have their horns as a grading indicator, the Indian Head cents were often graded by the number of diamonds showing on the Indian’s headdress. There are four diamonds on the hair ribbon, which happens to be the first point to show wear. Continue reading

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1818 piece fantasy strike, not mule

Somewhere I read something about an 1818 quarter that had a large cent reverse. Was this a mule? Continue reading

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Gold $5 prop in WWI Houdini act

One source that we found says that in a World War I version of the USO tours, Houdini entertained American troops by filling a fishbowl with half dollars and then going into the audience and pulling gold half eagles out of the ears and hair of his audience. He would cap this by tossing a coin to some lucky soldier. Continue reading

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Credit Longacre for 3-cent issue design

The design for the issued coin was Longacre’s, but Peale is credited with an 1850 pattern copied from the pattern by Gobrecht for an 1836 gold dollar. While checking this, I note that many writers tend to gloss over the differences between patterns and actual issued coins, which may have been the root cause for your difference of opinion. Continue reading

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Wheat heads considered symbolic wreath

A logical observation, although coin design is not always logical. U.S. coins featured a wreath as part of the design from their inception in 1792 almost continuously until 1921 when the last true wreath disappeared from the silver dollar. The wheat head design, since the heads are curved and resemble the old wreaths, is considered a symbolic wreath. Continue reading

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Two commems bear prominent crosses

Despite the fact that the word “God” appears on all of our relatively recent coins, the only two U.S. coins that clearly show a cross in the design are the York County, Maine, 1936 commemorative half dollar that shows the county seal – a shield quartered by a large cross – and the 1934 Maryland commemorative half that has two crosses in the reverse design. There is also a small cross on the Shield nickel, the only intended circulation strike. Continue reading

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Tradition keeps names off U.S. coins

Think a minute and you’ll realize that nobody has their name on any U.S. coin that depicts a real person, other than some of the commemoratives. It’s a matter of law that the names appear on our paper money, but tradition, based on a desire to avoid the appearance of being a “regal” currency, led to the absence of any names on coins. Continue reading

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Names ‘trime,’ ‘thrip’ didn’t fly

Is the trime and the thrip the same coin by different names? Technically no, as “trime” was applied to the U.S. 3-cent piece to fit with “dime.” “Thrip” was another candidate for the coin, but it was originally applied to the English threepence. Official efforts to use either or both for the U.S. coin failed to catch the public fancy. Continue reading

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Olympic surcharge brought $73 million

The surcharge applied to the 1983 and 1984 Olympic coins amounted to $50 on each gold coin and $10 for each silver coin, which was included in the purchase price. As orders were received, the surcharge was turned over to the United States Olympic Committee and the Los Angeles organizing committee As a result, when the program was over the committees had received a total of $73.4 million, which helped support athletes under the American banner. Continue reading

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Silver dime helped churn butter?

What’s the old story about the dime and churning butter? This is a bit of folklore that alleged that if milk was “witched” so it wouldn’t churn, all one had to do was drop in a silver dime to remove the spell. Silver holds a prominent place in literature concerning protection from witchcraft. Continue reading

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