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Public liked nickel, but not bars and rays

From time to time you

From time to time you?ve mentioned the many coins that were unpopular with the public. Were there any that were actually popular?

One of the very few coins that was met with puplic approval was the nickel. Although they already had the half-dime, the Treasury introduced the nickel in 1866 as a temporary expedient, but the public liked it and the half-dime was dropped instead. One thing the public did not like about the first nickels was the bars and rays, which many attributed to the Confederacy.

 In an old numismatic reference I found mention of a planned sale by Parke-Bernet Galleries of New York of the Josiah K. Lilly coin collection. Did the sale ever come off?

Actually the ?planned? sale was a ploy to get Congress to act on a bill that had been submitted to relieve the Lilly estate of a $5.5 million tax bill. As part of the agreement, the superb collection was to go to the Smithsonian Institute. The estate was pushing, claiming it was costing $1,000 a day to keep the collection, but Congress procrastinated until May 1968. President Lyndon Johnson signed the bill into law on June 4, 1968, and within two weeks the coins were delivered to the Smithsonian.

What can I expect from a dealer?s ad that offers ?average circulated? coins?

There is no set grade or specific definition for ?average circulated.? It is entirely up to the dealer who is selling the coins, so it is necessary to ask the dealer in order to find out what is being offered. As a general rule, you can expect to find most of the coins at the lower end of the grading scale with an occasional better-grade piece, but the group will average About Fine.

Please explain all the grading terms in your column. Then how do I go about learning how to grade a coin?

Sorry, but it would take a book, and the book is the American Numismatic Association Grading Guide. It contains all the information you need and is available from almost any coin dealer or directly from the ANA. It?s detailed enough so that the seemingly impossible task of learning how to grade becomes relatively easy. This book should be one of your first purchases when you get into the hobby. The best advice is to buy the book before you buy ? or sell ? a coin.

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