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Not all coins complied with 1837 design act

Is it true that several of our coins minted between 1837 and 1916 had illegal designs?

Is it true that several of our coins minted between 1837 and 1916 had illegal designs?


The Coinage Act of 1837 (continued by the Act of 1873) specifically states that the reverse of our coins is to bear the legend, “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” Among others, the Flying Eagle and Indian Head cents, the silver and nickel 3-cents, and the half dimes of 1838-1840 and 1860-1873 all had it on the obverse. All of the dimes struck between 1859 and 1916 violated this provision, as do other coins, such as the 1856-1873 gold dollars.

Why are the prices for 1982-P and -D quarters higher than others with about the same mintages?

The usual cause for this and similar price fluctuations is a lack of foresight. Not enough top grade coins were picked up when they were issued, so that now demand exceeds the supply, forcing the price up. If you sit down and study mintage figures and prices, you will find a number of these situations.

What’s the difference between a rub on a coin and die abrasion?

A rub is a form of wear after the coin has been struck from contact with any other object, including another coin. Die abrasion is a change in the surface of the die from contact wear from the planchets or the use of some abrasive, altering the profile of the die and leaving marks that often appear as raised lines on the struck coin. Rubs leave scratches on the surface of the coin. It’s usually necessary to examine the coin with a strong magnifier to tell the difference. A rub will reduce the value of the coin. Die abrasion will also usually reduce the value, although very few die abrasion varieties do have some collector value.

Is, or was, there ever a complete collection of all U.S. coins?

The collection that laid claim to containing examples of every U.S. coin struck for circulation since 1792 belonged to the late Baltimore banker, Louis Eliasberg.

The Canadian 1976 $100 gold coin has some odd lettering under the figures on the reverse. Is it a misstrike?

The artist designing the coin used Greek letters to spell out “Olympiades” above the “21” on the Olympic commemorative coin.

In a local shop that sells used magazines, I found two identical issues of Coins magazine, one dated January 1962, the other February 1962. Was this a mistake?

You have one pair out of five duplicates. From January to May 1962, the newsstand copies were intentionally dated a month later than the subscription copies. You were lucky to find the two together. One of the projects that I embarked on when I was the editor of Coins magazine was to assemble a complete set going back to the 1955 issues before Krause bought the publication. Thanks to a book dealer’s mail bid sale, I was able to get the one remaining copy that I was missing.

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

More Resources:

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2010 U.S. Coin Digest, The Complete Guide to Current Market Values, 8th ed.

State Quarters Deluxe Folder By Warmans

Standard Guide to Small-Size U.S. Paper Money, 1928 to Date

Strike It Rich with Pocket Change, 2nd Edition