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Congress left eagle off Bicentennials

How did they get away with Bicentennial coin designs that didn’t include an eagle?

This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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How did they get away with Bicentennial coin designs that didn’t include an eagle?


Curiously this is but one instance of an apparent anti-eagle sentiment in Congress. The enabling act authorizing the designs omitted the necessary exemption from the law that requires an eagle as part of the design. The designs were accepted as the “intent” of Congress, even if not actually authorized. The eagle was not specifically exempted from the law, but the House report on the bill indicated the congressional intent to leave the eagle off the Bicentennial coins.

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Why wasn’t the Statue of Liberty picked for one of our Bicentennial coins? I think it would have been very appropriate.

You aren’t alone as several Statue designs got as far as the semi-finals of the design competition. They were knocked out because the Statue of Liberty was not a direct part of Revolutionary history. To prove the thinking behind your suggestion, the Statue was part of the central design of more than 800 entries in the design competition.

Did soldiers from Haiti fight in the American Revolution?

Indeed they did. The Bicentennial 1,000 gourdes of 1974 issued by Haiti depicts the Battle of Savannah in which Haitian troops under French command fought against the British.

What was the troy weight of the ARBAgold and silver medals? What were the selling prices?

The American Revolution Bicentennial Administration issued several medals between 1972 and 1976. The 9/10th-inch gold contained .370 ounce. The 3-inch sterling silver contained 7.822 ounces, and the 1-1/2-inch sterling .925 ounces. There also were gold plated bronze medals with a negligible amount of gold. The gold 3-inch sold for $4,000, the 1-5/16-inch for $400, the .906-inch for $100. The 1-1/2-inch gold-plated bronze was $15, the silver 3-inch $150, the 1-1/2 inch $25 and the bronze 1-1/2 inch $5.

Do you have more on the government recall of gold?

Herb supplied the following: When President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered all gold coins returned to the government, there was an exemption of up to $100 face value that could be retained in a collection. However, many ignored the law, despite fines and jail sentences. The recall had little or no effect on the tons of gold coins in European banks. The April 5, 1933, order had the $100 exemption that included Gold Certificates. It gave you 14 days to turn in your gold coins. The order of Aug. 28, 1933, gave you 30 days to turn in the gold coins. The district court of New York ruled on Nov. 16, 1933, that the coin surrender order was null and void because the President signed it and not the Secretary of the Treasury. On Dec. 28, 1933, the Secretary of the Treasury issued his order. Collectible coins were exempted except quarter eagles and Gold Certificates. On Jan. 11, 1934, an exemption was made for quarter eagles held as part of a collection. A maximum of four for each design, date, mint combination was allowed.

What is a “shield earring pattern?”

In the May 4 issue I said that the name was applied to a group of patterns designed by George T. Morgan for the quarter, half and dollar in 1882 that feature Miss Liberty wearing an earring in the shape of a miniature U.S. shield. I said it was similar to the Indian Head cent. Bill Fivas has a more up to date answer, that the shield on the patterns is almost identical to the 2010 cent reverse.

Who originated the slogan, “Buy the book before you buy the coin?”

The late Aaron Feldman. Among other noted parts of his career was the operation of what was billed as the “smallest coin shop in the world,” a booth in a jewelry exchange. His purpose was to get collectors to educate themselves as they progressed in the hobby. I have modified the slogan to read: “Buy the book before you buy – or sell – the coin.” You can lose just as much selling a coin for less than it’s worth as you can buying one for more than it’s worth.

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