This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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Do the 15 stars on the 1817 large cent variety indicate the number of states in the Union at that time?
By early 1817 there were 19 states in the Union, Mississippi becoming the 20th on Dec. 10, 1817. There has been no satisfactory explanation for the two extra stars other than their being an engraving mistake.
Did the Myddelton coins for the British Colony of Kentucky, dated 1796, ever circulate?
More properly tokens, rather than coins, the pieces are only known in proof and apparently did not circulate.
Are there some 1853 quarter eagles that were struck with cent dies?
The explanation may be a bit confusing, but the die used for the obverse of the quarter eagles of that year was used to strike pattern cents in combination with a large cent reverse that has an olive branch and the denomination but without the “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” The obverse die used for the quarter eagles thus was not a cent die, but was used to strike pattern cents.
Is it true that most of the coins in King Farouk’s massive collection were harshly cleaned?
Some of the bullion coins were cleaned, but almost all of the copper pattern coins in his collection had been scrubbed. Prices were discounted accordingly.
The famed 1933 $20 that was recently sold apparently was an exception, as it was not cleaned.
Please explain the cause of the 1796 large cent that has the spelling as “LIHERTY,” according to the price guides?
The die maker cut the “B” into the die facing in the wrong direction – actually as it would look on the coin – then discovered his mistake and cut the “B” again, this time correctly. The result is a letter that looks more like an H than anything else.
Is there such a thing as an early proof coin that is proof on only one side?
The U.S. Mint struck one-sided proofs in the early 1800s. Coins of Queen Victoria also are known with the obverse classed as a proof. I also have one listing of an 1895-S “presentation” coin, a dime with a proof-like obverse and a frosted reverse, “reminiscent” of the one-sided proofs.
Are presentation pieces known from the Denver Mint?
A limited number of coins with proof or proof-like surfaces were struck at Denver in 1906 and distributed to officials and others attending the opening ceremonies. The late Texas coin dealer R.E. “Bob” Wallace acquired a proof or proof-like 1906-D $20 gold piece in 1987 that came from the opening ceremonies.
What was the source of the coin motto, “GOD OUR TRUST?”
It is an excerpt from Francis Scott Key’s Star Spangled Banner, “Let this be our motto, In God is our trust.”
Did the U.S. Mint have a collection of Washington material?
The Mint formed what was called the Washington Cabinet with coins and medals honoring Washington, dedicating it in 1859. A number of the restrikes and special coins produced by the Mint in that era were used to trade for pieces needed for this Cabinet.
Are there “restrike” patterns like there are of the regular coins?
Certainly. A number of the U.S. Mint patterns – such as the Judd-132 1851 copper dollar – were struck years after the coin date. In this case the striking was about 1858. Seems strange that they would be called patterns, but ...