Were there any changes in the 1979 cent design besides the different mintmarks?
The only changes in 1979 were the new “S” and “D” mintmarks. The differences you may have noted in the rest of the design are due to wear and polishing of the die during use, rather than a deliberate change.
Has it ever been determined what the significance of the 94 stars is on the 1794 starred reverse cent?
No specific reason for them has been found. Dr. Sheldon noted that they were probably the result of some idle time at the Mint. The number has no apparent importance other than to complete the design.
Is there any way of telling a worn, dateless 1916 quarter from a 1917?
After describing the markers, I made the statement that: “You still have a dateless coin worth only its bullion content.”
Chip in Georgia disagrees, writing that a dateless 1916 quarter may bring from $150 to $300, and that there is an active demand for them.
Is there any significance to the fact that Lincoln faces to the viewer’s right, while all other contemporary circulation coins of the U.S. have the busts facing left?
None that I’ve been able to track down. V.D. Brenner set the pattern with the Lincoln cent, which was the first circulating U.S. coin to depict a real person, so the others that followed were the precedent breakers.
I have a silver octagonal Bicentennial piece which is marked “One Ounce,” but actually weighs closer to 1.5 ounces. Was this an official issue?
If by official you mean a government issue, the answer is no. It was struck by the Stowe Nut & Bolt Co. of Stow, Ohio, and sold originally for $12.50. The extra half ounce of .999 silver is a bonus due to the die design that required a large planchet.
Why were so many of the “V” nickels worn nearly flat? Seems like most of them look like they’d had the design ground off.
Good question. The probable answer is that the design on both sides is in quite low relief, meaning it took less wear to eliminate details. The effect is similar to the rapidly wearing dates of the Buffalo nickels and Standing Liberty quarters.
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