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1976 coins among few to be released early

Have any circulating U.S. coins been issued prior to the year of their date?

Have any circulating U.S. coins been issued prior to the year of their date?


Normally U.S. coins are issued in the first quarter of the year shown as the date on the coin, although there are instances when they have shown up much later in the year. Early release is a rarity. About the only exception were the 1976 dated quarters, halves and dollars, all of which were released in the last half of 1975. This of course brings up the 1900 “dated” Lafayette dollars that were struck in 1899. However, the claim is that 1900 was the date of the dedication of the statue, not the coin’s date. More recently there have been at least two instances of the state quarters reaching circulation before their official release date.

Are there other coins that turned black like the U.S. zinc cents?

Zinc is not exactly a popular coinage metal for that very reason. Virtually every country that has issued zinc coinage – usually as a wartime expedient – has had the same or similar problems. Climates with high humidity and heat have more than their share of such problems. Historically, there was the so-called black money of 1300-1500. The debased silver quickly turned black in circulation.
In some areas of Africa, especially Nigeria, the people referred to the copper and bronze coins as black money, and would accept only silver, nickel or aluminum coins.

I have a quarter with two reverses [or obverses]. Is this a minting variety or a fake?

It is an alteration, a so-called “novelty” coin, usually produced by hollowing out one coin and cutting down a second to fit inside, so that the joint is hidden on or along the rim on one side or the other, rather than on the edge. For the record, the U.S. Mint has never struck a two-“headed” or two-“tailed” coin that has reached circulation, except for a few Indian Head cents. The dies are made so that it is impossible to accidentally install two obverse or two reverse dies in a coin press. This rule, however, does not apply to foreign coins.

I’m told that there were numerous counterfeits of the U.S. silver 3-cent piece of 1861. Is that correct

There are a few known fakes of earlier dates, but the flood let loose in 1861, with most of them being German “silver” or nickel-silver, an alloy that contains no silver.

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

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