What happens to coins that are altered outside of the Mint in order to make souvenirs out of them that can be marketed to the public?
I don’t have the answer for everything, but I have one reader who regularly sends me questions about Kennedy half dollars that he has found in circulation, which I assume means in rolls obtained from a local bank.
His latest request for information was about a Kennedy half dollar that was stamped with the dates 1960 and 1980.
The first date was above the “In God” portion of our national motto while the second date was above “We Trust.” He asked me why this was done.
I immediately emailed back that I assumed it was a souvenir to mark the 20th anniversary of John F. Kennedy being elected President of the United States. I am not absolutely sure, so someone can write in and correct my theory if they know better.
Curiously, the reader did not provide me with the underlying date of the coin. That seems a strange lapse for a collector.
Over time the reader has also sent in other questions of similarly altered coins. One was a Kennedy half with a sticker on it for a baseball team event.
While this particular reader is interested in altered Kennedy half dollars, others are surprised when they encounter gold-plated state quarters or other items.
When I was a kid it was altered cents showing Lincoln facing Kennedy. Nobody has written to me about this particular souvenir in quite a long time, so perhaps nobody cares about altered cents any longer
But the point of it all is that after purchasers of these souvenirs get tired of them, need money or have light-fingered family members, they end up back in the banking system for collectors to find. They often puzzle the recipients.
My hope is that anyone who thinks about an altered coin long enough to be puzzled will be ripe to become a true collector.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."