Wasn't the Bicentennial quarter an afterthought?
It was. The original proposal from the Administration was for a half dollar and a dollar. The quarter was suggested by Mint Director Mary Brooks after the original proposal was sent to Congress.
The government spent a lot of time tracking down and confiscating the 1933 $20 gold pieces. Why didn’t they do the same with the 1913 Liberty nickels?
For some unknown reason the government made no direct attempt to confiscate the 1913 V nickels, perhaps because they felt they could not conclusively prove that they were actually struck without permission. However, if anyone were foolish enough to send one of the coins in to the Mint to be authenticated, it would undoubtedly be seized.
The 1933 $20 gold was in the spotlight because of the Presidential order banning gold, so in that case the government zealously followed as many of the coins as they could find.
I read a report of a British coin that had been altered by hollowing it out and then inserting a thin magnet. What would be the purpose of this?
The most likely cause is that the coin was deliberately manufactured to use in a magic trick. The magnet could be used to make the coin adhere to a metal wall, or to follow a metal wand and move about on a table top or any of several possible “tricks.” Similar pieces that have been hollowed out and have a thin steel plate installed are still sold in magic supply and novelty stores in the U.S.
Do those “novelty” coins have any value?
For many years I used to say that “novelty” coins (Lincoln smoking a pipe, state maps, the Liberty Bell and other additions to otherwise genuine coins), had no value. However, for some time now I have been qualifying that by indicating that they have only minor value, but that they are being collected. I have no doubt that they will be a fad of some small value 50 years down the road.
What other uses are made of the Great Seal besides appearing on the backs of the $1 notes?
The Great Seal was designed by Sir John Prestwich, an Englishman. It was given to John Adams in 1779 when he was in England negotiating a peace treaty.
The Great Seal is used on commissions for cabinet officers, ambassadors, ministers and foreign service officers and certain other government agency officials. It’s used on proclamations, treaties, extradition papers, letters to foreign heads of state and certain other official documents. The display of the seal on the dollar is described as “educational.”
Are there other zinc cents besides the ones beginning in 1982?
Philadelphia Mint records show that a small quantity of 1942-dated zinc cents were struck with at least one lost, possibly into circulation. However, they turned out to be a trial strike for the 1943 cents, dated 1942, and struck on the same zinc “coated” steel. This was the Mint’s way of ducking the fact that they were about to issue their first plated coin. The piece is similar, if not identical, to the plastic cents struck in that year with Liberty facing left on the obverse, “LIBERTY” and “FREEDOM” to the left and above. On the reverse is “UNITED STATES MINT” in three lines with a wreath. Of interest is the fact that the Liberty bust is from the 1918 Colombian 2 centavos struck at Philadelphia, and the wreath is from the 1860 U.S. $5 gold.