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I?ve seen the wheat head design used on the Lincoln cent through 1958 described as a ?wreath design.? It doesn?t look like much of a wreath to me.

A logical observation, although coin design is not always logical. U.S. coins featured a wreath as part of the design from their inception in 1792 almost continuously until 1921 when the last true wreath disappeared from the silver dollar. The wheat head design, since the heads are curved and resemble the old wreaths, is considered a symbolic wreath.

What is a ?hard? dollar?

Sounds like a term for a silver dollar, but it is actually older than that. The Spanish 8 reales, or Spanish dollar, was referred to by the English as a hard dollar.

What?s the story on so-called legal counterfeiting?

In wartime situations many governments have dabbled in schemes involving counterfeiting their enemy?s paper money. Some of the better known are Samuel Upham?s woodcuts that caused the Confederacy serious problems. There were also the British counterfeits of our Continental Currency, and the German operations in World War I and II.

Did any of the people who counterfeited coins in the American colonial period get put to death, or was that a European custom?

According to the records, several counterfeiters were put to death in the early days of our country. Somewhat surprisingly, one of the first two was a woman. In 1720, Martha Hunt and her husband, Edward, were hanged in Philadelphia upon being found guilty of a charge of making and issuing counterfeit coins. When the United States Mint was established in 1792, one of the first laws governing it provided for the death penalty for an official who tampered with the coinage.

Did Honduras once use United States coins in their economy?

U.S. coins circulated there for a number of years. In 1951 some 14 million U.S. half dollars were recalled by the Honduran banks and returned to the Philadelphia Mint. The half dollar corresponded in value with the 1 lempira coin. The withdrawal resulted in a coin shortage that was alleviated with the issue of a new 1 lempira note later in the yea.

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