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Mintmark? Get used to it.

I was looking at a feature story about Walking Liberty half dollars. A stray thought occurred to me as I was noting the obverse placement of the mintmarks on the coins of 1916 and 1917 and the reverse placment of the mintmark on the rest of the dates in the series.

As a kid, Walking Liberty half dollars were commonly in circulation. The early issues with obverse mintmarks were long gone. I never found one.

The reverse mintmarked coins were the norm. It was what I got used to.

Since 1968, I have been one of those collectors who feels that obverse mintmark locations are new and different.

Imagine that, 45 years after the mintmark was moved to the obverse of the Kennedy half dollar, it still looks new and novel to me. There is only one date, the 1964, where there was a mintmark on the reverse, but that is the issue I saw first. That is the issue that became the norm in my mind 50 years ago and it is still there.

I harbor similar feelings about Jefferson nickels, Roosevelt dimes and Washington quarters.

The pattern of obverse mintmarks established in 1968 simply runs counter to the “norms” that my earlier acquaintance with coins had placed in my brain.

“The reverse is where mintmarks belong” seems to be the message my brain is sending me.

Yet the very first coin I began my collecting with, the Lincoln cent, has always had the mintmark on the obverse.

Yes, that’s true.

But for this particular topic, I will never claim to be consistent.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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One Response to Mintmark? Get used to it.

  1. Vachon says:

    But then Standing Liberty Quarters also broke this otherwise normal trend (as did Saint-Gaudens $20 pieces back in the day).

    I’d just prefer mintmarks in locations that feel natural for them. Its placement on the silver Washington quarters, for example, was perfect. Its position today is awkward.

    I just wish they’d never let Philadelphia mark its coins since that broke with a very long tradition. I also wish they’d force any mint making coins for circulation (that’s not Philadelphia) to strike coins bearing its mintmark. I heard in 2000, West Point struck Lincoln cents briefly due to excessive demand at the time but did not mark them. It’s a shame we don’t have 2000-W cents to keep an eye out for today.

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