• seperator

Eagle a real denomination

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 dollar, 3-dollar and 50- dollar coins were never officially named other than their denomination.

How do merchants get away with these promotions where they offer to sell items at “pre-war” prices or some such gimmick, if payment is made in 90 percent silver coins? I thought the coins were still legal tender.

They are, but the merchants aren’t breaking any law, just taking advantage of the current value of the bullion content of the silver pieces. There still is a public perception that our nation’s coins (and paper money) are inviolate and government property, to be treated with kid gloves.

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You’ve mentioned several times that it is legal to make such things as elongated coins and even coin jewelry. But is this true for gold coins?

At one time it was illegal, but current law generally ignores the question of whether or not a coin contains any bullion, the prohibitions centering upon “fraudulent” alteration of the coin. This is why you can see gold coins made into watches or soldered into jewelry. The Secret Service in 1971 announced that it was illegal to mutilate gold, whether soldered, holed, trimmed or altered. However, the ruling did not apply to foreign imports, so it was unworkable.

What was the purpose of the law passed in the early 1900s prohibiting the defacing of coins?

The law was the direct outgrowth of the then-current craze for love tokens. So many coins were being altered that the Treasury decided they needed a law to prohibit the practice, as well as the elongating of coins and making coin jewelry. The law was rescinded in 1909 after most of the activity had stopped.

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I thought when they restored the mintmarks to U.S. coins back in 1968 that it was mandatory? How come the Mint didn’t use the “S” and “W” on all coins struck at those mints – or for that matter on the cents from Philadelphia?

The law rescinding the five-year ban on mintmarks beginning in 1965 gave the Mint the “discretion” of restoring the mintmarks, rather than making it mandatory.

Do I have to report sales of coins to the IRS?

There is no blanket answer, but keep all your buy and sell records to establish profit or loss.

I hope this won’t start an argument, but does a coin become money at the instant it is struck with the design by the dies?

This is a point that probably has slipped by most of us, but a coin is nothing more than a piece of struck metal, like a nut or bolt or a car fender until it has been counted and formally turned over to the Superintendent of the Mint by the coiner. In the case of gold and silver coins, both a count and weight are required.

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Strike It Rich with Pocket Change, 2nd Edition

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