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Silver 3-cent piece used as postage stamp


I?m told that at one time the half dime and dime were depicted on mail as postage. Is there any truth to the story?

You might be surprised to learn that both designs in the form of hand stamps were in fact used to show postage had been paid. In addition the 3-cent silver coins were, in a few rare cases, glued to the envelope as prepayment. At least one post office used a hand stamp with the 3-cent design including the word ?PAID.? Prepayment of postage became universal in the U.S. in 1855.

I have a 1940 cent that has a 1 over the 0 in the date. Is this a listed overdate?

As an educated guess, your 1/0 in the date probably is damage to the 0 on a normal 1940 date cent. What frequently happens is that some sharp object shears the metal, shoving it into a ridge on top of the 0.

Didn?t Numismatic News once use a grading system with ?Fair? as the lowest grade?

It did, and defined it as: ?A badly worn coin with only part of the lettering showing. Usually the coin has no numismatic value, but in the case of a rare coin is used as a filler.? It was given the abbreviation ?Fa,? but the general use of ?about good? for the same low grade won out.

I have a half dollar that has three identical closely spaced marks in the field. Any idea what might have caused them?

The marks on the half dollar are contact marks, caused by the sharp edges of the reeding of another coin damaging the surface of this coin. If you hold another half against this, you will find that the reeds fit into the three marks. Typically these triple marks are found on the larger, heavier coins such as the halves and the Ike dollars.

Wasn?t there a Mint of North America?

There was, and there was also a Bank of North America. In both cases Robert Morris had a hand in their establishment, which is one of the reasons he is suspected of playing a role in the Treasury seal design. The Mint of North America was established Feb. 21, 1782. It struck the Nova Constellation silver patterns of 1783 but apparently had no connection with the North American Token of 1781, which came from Ireland at a much later date.

Address questions to Coin Clinic, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Because of space limitations, we are unable to publish all questions. Include a loose 41-cent stamp for reply. Write first for specific mailing instructions before submitting numismatic material. We cannot accept unsolicited items. E-mail inquiries should be sent to