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I have a Grant commemorative half dollar that has the star in a slightly different position than others that I have. Is this a variety?

I have a Grant commemorative half dollar that has the star in a slightly different position than others that I have. Is this a variety?


More probably it is a counterfeit, especially if the interior surface of the star appears different than the field surface and the field bulges up around the star. These fakes appeared as far back as 1932.

Why were there so many die defects – die breaks, die cracks, etc. – on the cents back in the 1950s?

This is a composite of frequent questions, and the general answer for a number of minting varieties is that the Mint was going through one of its periods of die steel problems. For instance, you will find that many of the 1954 coins have very poor strikes, due to the die steel wearing rapidly, or distorting from the pounding. The 1955 cents especially are noted for the numerous die cracks, chips and breaks.

Is it true that the GSA lost several million dollars due to bad checks on the Carson City dollar sales?

There were claims made by a TV network that $6.7 million had been lost to bad checks, but according to GSA figures losses amounted to only a very minor amount. At one time GSA had shipped 150 coins before checks had cleared but received payment on all of the coins.

What does the “condition” of a coin mean?

This is another example of a term that is typically misused even by experienced collectors and dealers. “Condition” is meaningless because it is an individual judgment that is undefined. Your “good condition” could be my “terrible condition.” We all need to stop using “condition” when we really mean the grade (exact amount of wear) of a coin.

I have a 1979 proof set with just four of the six coins with the Variety II mintmark. Is this rarer than the six-coin set?

It’s more common. An estimated 350,000 sets were issued with all six coins with the Variety II mintmark, while mintages of the individual coins ranged up to nearly one million. Many collectors have collected a number of sets with different combinations of the two varieties, an interesting variation in itself. Prices quoted have from the start been quoted for a full set of six coins with the same mintmark type, but there are plenty of mixed sets out there. You can figure the rough value of a mixed set by taking the individual Type II coin prices and adding them up.

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