Skip to main content

Brenner design first used on 1907 plaque

Is Victor D. Brenner’s bust of Lincoln on the cent an original design?

Is Victor D. Brenner’s bust of Lincoln on the cent an original design?


It’s an original, and it’s by Brenner, but it was first used for a plaque honoring Lincoln in 1907, and adapted in 1909 to fit the coin.

How big a library does a collector need to effectively pursue his hobby?

This is about like the old argument about the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin. The answer depends entirely on what you collect and how you collect it. You might be able to get by with a single book, or you might need several thousand if your interests are wide ranging. The key to the answer is that you need all the information you can get to be an effective collector.

I’ve seen stories relating to the unique 1794 U.S. dollar struck in copper. I thought there were two such coins.

There are, but one is a different minting variety than the other. The one is a true example of a trial piece as it was struck with an incomplete obverse die that did not have the stars punched in. This die was never used for striking the circulation dollars, but the piece has the same reverse as the circulating dollars. The other coin is a “regular dies trial piece,” struck with a different obverse die and the (same) reverse die, both used for striking the 1794 dollars. Thus both pieces are unique, but in their own class.

What is a “positional variety?”

The term is applied to a variety created by a difference in position of one or more design elements, such as the date or motto. One example would be a mintmark punched into the die so that it is touching some other element of the design, such as a date digit. Another would be the near and far date 1979-P Anthony dollars and other similar coins.

What is the story on the 1868 large cent?

The pieces are considered to be test strikes because they were made using leftover hubs from 1857, the last year of large cent production, and were used in anticipation of a new 10-cent coin, for which the dies had not been completed in time. Examples are known in copper and in nickel. Patterns using the large cent obverse and a reverse similar to the large cent, but with “TEN CENTS” in the center were also made in the same metals. Both the cent and 10-cent pieces are dated 1868.

When I received my Special Mint Set for 1965 from the U.S. Mint, the coins came in individual plastic envelopes, yet all sources say they were in hard cases. Is this right?

The coins in the Special Mint Sets of 1965 were packaged like coins in the prior year’s uncirculated coin set. The hard plastic case was an improvement to the set for 1966 and 1967. The SMS set cost was $4, up from $2.10 for the 1964 proof set.

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