What’s the story on the controversy surrounding the mintage figures for the 1899 Morgan dollar?
The coin seems to have run afoul of dealer competition, or possibly honest differences of opinion. One side claims that the 330,000 mintage for Philadelphia is correct, while others claim that substantial quantities were struck in 1900 with surplus 1899 dies and included in the 1900 mintage figures. There is little hard evidence to work with.
Back in the days of visual inspection of struck coins, what percentages of gold and silver coins were rejected?
One set of figures I found shows that at Philadelphia just over 90 percent of the double eagles passed inspection. The figure for the Peace dollars was just under 90 percent. However, from the ingot to the struck coin, the rejection rate was much higher: only 32.4 percent of the gold coins, 36 percent of the subsidiary silver and 51 percent of the silver dollars passing muster. The high rejection rate reflects the return of below standard weight planchets to be melted down and recast into ingots.
Can you give me some statistics about coin production? When did the United States Mint first strike a million dollars’ worth of coins in a single year?
The million dollar mark was surpassed in 1807. This included $437,495 in gold coins, $597,448 in silver coins and $9,652 in minor coins. The $10 million figure was reached in 1843, and $100 million in 1881. The old record for a single year was set in 1904, when a total of $250.8 million in face value was struck, including $233.4 million in gold. In 1964 that mark was eclipsed just by quarter production, which amounted to $318.1 million. The all-time record for the smallest production of coins was set in 1815, with a total value of $20,483.
How many different rarity scales are there for coins? Seems like I see a new one every few weeks.
If I said that there are hundreds of rarity scales, I’d probably be low as the number may be in the thousands. Virtually every author who has ever written a book has had his own version of a rarity scale, as occurs in my books. The same is true of many researchers and scholars who have evolved scales to accompany their work to make it more meaningful. It would be nice if there were one single, uniform rarity scale, but that unfortunately is a Utopian dream. Many scales follow a rough 1 to 7 or 1 to 8 pattern, with the highest number reserved for unique coins, or in some cases 1 to 3, 1 to 5 or some other low number.
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.