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Only one owner for 1794 dollars

 1794 dollar obverse (Image courtesy

1794 dollar obverse (Image courtesy

Is it true that all 1794 dollars passed through the hands of a single owner?

It’s true. David Rittenhouse, the Mint director, made the only deposit of silver in that year and – as was the practice at the time – the coins were paid to him. This is one case where you know that your coin was actually touched by an historical figure.

Is there a difference between “split bands” and “fully split bands” for the Mercury dime series?

The definitions are not “official,” but one explanation of the difference is that “split bands” means the bands are separated but flatly struck, while “fully split bands” means both bands are fully rounded as well as separated.

There’s a story connected with Farran Zerbe that has to do with a large collection he saved from the “first” San Francisco earthquake. Do you have any details?

Zerbe was in San Francisco the day before the earthquake of April 18, 1906, and wanted to see the J.C. Lighthouse collection of Roman and Greek coins. Lighthouse reluctantly agreed and removed the coins from a safe at the Palace of Art and took it to his home for Zerbe to view. By the time Zerbe was finished it was too late to return the collection to the Palace of Art. The next morning the earthquake destroyed the Palace, along with the safe and all its contents. Lighthouse’s home was badly damaged, but the collection escaped unscathed thanks to Zerbe’s visit.

I have a U.S. coin dated 1851. It is a silver dollar and has an Indian Head design. I can’t find it in any of my catalogs. Can you help me please?

This question came to me from the Czech republic, but the same pieces are showing up here in the U.S. I’m sorry to disappoint this reader, but these are fantasy coins that are being made in Italy for sale to the tourists. A reader in Italy recently sent us copies of this piece and several other imitations. It appears to combine the obverse of an Indian Head cent with the gold dollar reverse. Everybody knows these days about the outpouring of fakes from China. Some of these also fall into the category of fantasy pieces as either the dates or the designs were never made for circulation. Be watchful. Remember to be cautious about anything not listed in the catalog.

Explain the odd design of the Egyptian 1976-1396 commemorative.

It is unusual. The coin commemorates the Cairo Trade Fair. The principal design consists of a stylized ship. The Arabic legend forms the hull, while the legend in French and English is used as the sail.

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More Collecting Resources

• More than 600 issuing locations are represented in the Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1701-1800 .

• The 1800s were a time of change for many, including in coin production. See how coin designs grew during the time period in the Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900 .