I read a report of a British coin that had been altered by hollowing it out and then inserting a thin magnet. What would be the purpose of this?
The most likely cause is that the coin was deliberately manufactured to use in a magic trick. The magnet could be used to make the coin adhere to a metal wall, or to follow a metal wand and move about on a table top or any of several possible “tricks.” Similar pieces that have been hollowed out and have a thin steel plate installed are still sold in magic supply and novelty stores in the U.S.
Do those novelty coins have any value?
For many years, I used to say that novelty coins (Lincoln smoking a pipe, state maps, the Liberty Bell, and other additions to otherwise genuine coins) had no value. However, for some time now I have been qualifying that by indicating that they have only minor value but that they are being collected. I have no doubt that they will be a fad of some small value 50 years down the road.
What other uses are made of the Great Seal besides appearing on the backs of the $1 notes?
The Great Seal was designed by Sir John Prestwich, an Englishman. It was given to John Adams in 1779 when he was in England negotiating a peace treaty. The Great Seal is used on commissions for cabinet officers, ambassadors, ministers, and foreign service officers and certain other government agency officials. It’s used on proclamations, treaties, extradition papers, letters to foreign heads of state, and certain other official documents. The display of the seal on the dollar is described as educational.
Are there other zinc cents besides the ones beginning in 1982?
Philadelphia Mint records show that a small quantity of 1942-dated zinc cents were struck with at least one lost, possibly into circulation. However, they turned out to be a trial strike for the 1943 cents, dated 1942, and struck on the same zinc “coated” steel. This was the Mint’s way of ducking the fact that they were about to issue their first plated coin. The piece is similar, if not identical, to the plastic cents struck in that year with Liberty facing left on the obverse, LIBERTY and FREEDOM to the left and above. On the reverse is UNITED STATES MINT in three lines with a wreath. The Liberty bust is from the 1918 Colombian 2 centavos struck at Philadelphia, and the wreath is from the 1860 U.S. $5 gold.
What series of U.S. coins would you recommend for the beginning collector?
The best chances of success at reasonable prices in the goal of collecting an entire series would be the Jefferson nickel. With the exception of the single overdate and several hubbing varieties, collectible examples of a majority of the dates can still be found in circulation or purchased very reasonably.
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