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Single cent die found its way to New Orleans

Speculation surrounding the 1836 cent’s production at the New Orleans Mint was quieted by evidence that just a single die was accidentally shipped to the branch.

• Were any of the large cents struck at one of the branch mints?
There were a number of claims and some confusing evidence that a few 1836 cents might have been struck at New Orleans, but further research shows that what actually happened was that there was a single 1836 cent die left by accident in one of the coin presses shipped from Philadelphia to New Orleans in 1837. The single die may have been used to test the press, using some other die for it to strike against, but there is no evidence that any coins were struck. Without both dies it would have been impossible to strike any cents.


• Is it true that the Mint referred to proof coins as medals?
There are several instances of this, including the subterfuge of selling the Trade dollar proofs as medals to get around the Treasury Department order that halted production of the Trade Dollar in 1878.


• Please settle an argument. Is the “eagle” a real denomination for U.S. coins?
The Act of April 2, 1792, established standards for the eagle, half eagle and quarter eagle denominations. The Act of March 3, 1849, authorized the double eagle. The gold $1, $3 and $50 coins were never officially named other than their denomination. The silver and gold bullion coins struck from 1986 legally are eagles.

• Isn’t there a difference between a counterfeit coin and an altered coin? I saw a story referring to an altered date coin as a counterfeit.
You are correct. In current usage, a coin with an altered date, added mintmark or some other change affecting value is not a counterfeit, since it is a genuine coin that has been altered. A counterfeit coin is entirely a fake, not an official mint issue.

• I thought the Constitution prohibited anyone but the Federal Government from minting coins. How did private mints get away with violating the law?
The prohibition in the Constitution is worded to prevent the states from coining money, but since nobody happened to think of private mints, the point was overlooked in the original document and remained legal until it was outlawed later.

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