I’m told that a large number of the 1900 Lafayette commemorative dollars weren’t melted down until World War II. Is this correct?
The Treasury reportedly melted down the 14,000 remaining unsold in 1945 – a loss to the hobby. The remaining total after the melt is given as 36,026
When was it that the silver dollar lost its legal tender status?
In June of 1874 Congress passed a law removing all of the silver dollars struck up to that point in time from the status of legal tender. A joint resolution of the Congress, dated July 22, 1876, eliminated the legal tender status of the Trade dollar and empowered the Secretary of the Treasury to limit mintage to those needed to supply demands for export.
The Act of Feb. 28, 1878, restored the silver dollar and specified an unlimited legal tender status for all new dollars struck.
Can you legally refuse to accept notes or coins that are declared as legal tender?
There has been quite a discussion going on about legal tender on the Internet. One participant argued (unsuccessfully) that if legal tender is offered and refused a debt is cancelled. Actually, there is no law forcing anyone to accept legal tender. This doesn’t stop officials from refusing to accept the payment of fines in cents, or the refusal of the Miami post office to accept $100 notes.
I got a 1976-S proof dollar from a local bank that had obviously been in circulation. How can that happen?
This surprises many beginning collectors. Proof coins frequently turn up in circulation, mainly as the result of thefts by children, or professionals, who spend the coins rather than try to sell them to a coin dealer. Dealers also break up thousands of sets, dumping the low-grade coins into circulation.
If proof coins are legal tender and can be spent, how do you grade a proof coin that has been circulated?
Proof isn’t a grade. Instead it is a designation for a specific form of coin intended for collectors and made by a special process that gives it a different appearance than a regular circulating coin. Proof coins have their own grades, designated at PF-60 to PF-70. They roughly match the MS-60 to MS-70 (Mint State) grades for circulating coins or business strikes, as they are often called. A proof with wear would be considered an impaired proof.
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 42-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.