This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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Would you describe the Peace dollars as a circulating commemorative?
Certainly. The purpose of the coin was to celebrate peace, and it was therefore issued as a commemorative. Since it was intended to circulate, even if it did not fully meet the criteria, it would be classed as a circulating commemorative. The statement has been made that it was the only such commemorative issued between 1922 and 1935, but several of the commemorative half dollars actually circulated.
I have several U.S. commemorative coins that obviously have been in circulation. Isn’t that unusual?
It was not at all unusual for the commemorative issues to circulate, all the way back to the Columbian Expo 1892 and 1893 pieces that were placed in circulation when they didn’t sell. If not then, certainly during the Depression when only a favored few could afford to hang onto collector coins. To the public they were pretty much just another coin with a stated value. The commemorative programs got a lot of bad press at the time because of the many abuses by the promoters.
This argument is raging hot and heavy, so pick a side. Is the Ike dollar a commemorative, or not?
It was authorized as a replacement for the Peace dollar. Historically, it is another of the dual commemoratives, as it recognizes President Eisenhower on the obverse, and the moon landing of July 20, 1969, on the reverse. Then there is the 1976 version, which is a true commemorative, marking the 200th anniversary of our independence. I lean toward listing the whole series as a circulating commemorative.
Has the U.S. Mint issued any two-obverse coins?
Other than a couple of recent dubious mint sports, the only likely examples are the 1904 and 1905 Lewis and Clark gold commemorative dollars that have the head of Lewis on one side and Clark on the other. For identification, the Lewis side is the obverse.
What is the significance of the incuse “L” on the cotton bale on the reverse of the Confederate cent?
The “L” is the designer’s initial, for Robert Lovett Jr., who designed and made the dies and struck the 12 originals.
Is it true that the Confederacy struck only 16 coins during the Civil War?
The 16 figure is correct for original coins actually commissioned by the South and included 12 cents and four half dollars. The halves were not completely a Confederate design as they used a standard 1861 obverse. However, much larger quantities of coins were actually struck, using captured U.S. Mint dies and bullion.
I have a “Wealth of the South” token. I’m told this was really a Northern piece. Is this correct?
They began as political pieces for the Lincoln, Douglas and other campaigns of 1860 but were pressed into service by the South as coins.
I have been given a set of five Confederate coins: a half dollar, quarter, dime, half dime and cent. What can you tell me about it?
The pieces are fantasy coins, produced in the early 1960s. The set sold at the time for $3.95 plus 25 cents postage. Incidentally, the half dollar in this set is not the one that is listed in our Unusual World Coins catalog, which is a copy of the Confederate half that was actually produced. These pieces have a different design.
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