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Did the U.S. Half cent ever have purchasing power?

I recently read about the 2019 Floating Head variety Lincoln cent in Numismatic News. Since the image wasn’t clear, can you describe the coin?

The 2019 Floating Head Lincoln cent has no neck, although the tie at the throat area is visible. Since multiples of the variety have been discovered, it is likely the variety is caused by an inferior or over-polished obverse working die than from foreign material becoming lodged momentarily in a die.

 

Did the U.S. half-cent ever have any purchasing power?

When the half-cent was introduced in 1793 the typical wage earner made a dollar a day and worked six days a week. It cost about 1.5 cents to purchase a pound of potatoes. According to Old Inns and Taverns of West Jersey, a dinner with a pint of good beer or cider cost 37.5 cents in Salem County in 1806. The half-cent served a function at that time.

 

I recently saw a slabbed Platinum American Eagle coin on which the label described the coin as being a mint error with a finned rim. What is a finned rim?

A finned rim is a thin flange extending vertically from the coin’s edge. The error is caused by excessive striking pressure forcing the metal to flow into the gap between the die neck and collar, the metal flow appearing as fins. The location of these fins depends on the tilt of the die at the moment of striking.

 

Why were two wheat ears chosen for the reverse of the 1909 Lincoln cent?

Coin designer Victor D. Brenner’s original design included a tree branch similar to that used on contemporary French silver coins. U.S. Mint Director Frank A. Leach directed Brenner to use a more simplified reverse design, resulting in the two simple wheat ears.

 

Did Brenner’s cent reverse design employ any special variety of wheat?

Sources indicate Brenner chose two ears of durum wheat, also known as pasta or macaroni wheat. Durum is Latin for hard. The species is the hardest of all wheats, and for that reason, it is difficult to mill. It is the second most commonly grown wheat, which brings up the question as to why Brenner chose this particular wheat for his coinage design.

 

Can you explain the difference between the 1859 cent reverse wreath and that appearing on the later Indian cents?

The 1859 Indian cent depicts six-leaf bunches of laurel or more properly olive leaves. The 1860 to 1909 Indian cent depicts an oak wreath and a narrow shield. Arrows are added to the wreath at the six o’clock position.

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