Skip to main content

Anyone for a free 'COD," some "SOD," or a 'FORD'?

I love coinage history, particularly when it's a bit bizarre. A great example of this appeared in the January 1915 issue of Mehl's Numismatic Monthly under the title, "An Automobile for Four Mint Marks."

B. Max Mehl, a prominent early 20th-century coin dealer from Texas, related that a rumor circulating in the general press of his day was that if a lucky collector were to find four U.S. dimes with the mintmarks F, O, R, and D, he or she would win a car from the Ford Motor Co.

One of those newspapers forced to explain that such a combination was impossible was the Utica (N.Y.) Herald Dispatch. Noting that due to the rumor, "many Uticans are searching for the four coins that are said to bear these letters," the Dispatch broke the news that "Their search is hopeless. Two of the letters are 'F' and 'R.' There is no coin ever struck that bears either of these letters as a mintmark."

The Dispatch was right. At that time you could get a coin from either Philadelphia (no mintmark); Charlotte, N.C. (C); Carson City, Nev. (CC); Dahlonega, Ga. (D); San Francisco (S); New Orleans (O); and Denver (D). Not all of these mints, of course, struck dimes. Charlotte and Dahlonega only minted gold.

Among the few recognizable words you could make, using different mintmarked dimes, was "SOD." By stretching the rules and adding in Charlotte gold coins, besides free "SOD," you could get a free "COD" or, maybe, a free visit to a "DOC." However, when it comes to "FORD," and a free car, the best you could "DO" with your dimes was the "O" and the "D."

The Dispatch related that the necessary four letters could, however, all be located in the legend "United States of America" found on dimes and other U.S. coins, which certainly would have made for a lot of new happy owners of Model Ts would that it had been true.