What is the purpose of the large ?C? in the design of the silver 3-cent piece?
It was added as an abbreviation of ?cents? to distinguish the denomination. Curiously, while U.S. coins have often been considered to be copies of French designs, the French seem to have borrowed that big ?C? for their small denomination coins of the World War I era.
I notice in a previous answer that you refer to the Lincoln cent design (1909-1958) as wheat ?heads.? How come, when everyone calls them wheat ?ears??
Because, ?everyone? is as wrong in this case as those who call the 1970-S cent a ?small? date. As Del Romines points out and any farmer can attest to, corn has ears, wheat has heads. Romines made the point successfully with the Red Book editor, who began using the correct term in the 1994 edition.
Are there any U.S. coins with the same design on different denominations?
One would be the Grant gold commemorative dollar and half dollar. Also, the 20-cent piece has the same reverse as the Trade dollar. This similarity isn?t often spotted, but it?s correct. Missing from the 20-cent coin is the motto, E PLURIBUS UNUM and the statement of the silver fineness that is added to the Trade dollar, but the rest is the same.
Some friends were arguing the point as to whether the bust of Columbus on the Columbian Exposition commemorative half dollar is modeled after a portrait of the explorer. Is it?
The original intent was to use a medal struck in 1512 as a model, but a copy was not available in time, so Charles Barber used some other depiction of Columbus for the coin.
Is there any U.S. coin that carries a cross as part of the design?
Despite the fact that the word ?God? appears on all our relatively recent coins, the only two U.S. coins that clearly show a cross in the design are the York County, Maine, 1936 commemorative half dollar, which shows the county seal ? a shield quartered by a large cross ? and the 1934 Maryland Commemorative half, which has two crosses in the reverse design. There is also a cross on the Shield nickels, the only intended circulation strike.