• seperator

Roman poet source of coin motto


Where did “E Pluribus Unum” come from?

The Latin slogan meaning “Out of Many, One” has been the topic of several recent questions. It is traced to a poem by Roman poet Virgil (70-19 B.C.), who used it in “Moretum” in the line, “…Deperdunt propias; color est E Pluribus Unum,” referring to ingredients ground up with a mortar and pestle. Curiously, it was used as a masthead slogan by a number of English newspapers of the early 1700s, which may well have been the indirect source resulting in its appearance in the Great Seal and later on our coins. The motto was adopted to signify the joining of the 13 colonies into one nation.

I have a proof set from the early 1960s, still in the soft plastic envelope, in which something has happened to the cent. Part of both sides and the edge are a different color. Is this some kind of minting variety?

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As it happens, I’ve seen other sets with a coin like yours, but I suspect that it occurs often enough to puzzle some other collectors. Check the seal around the edges of the pocket that the cent is in and I think you’ll find a break in the seal. What has happened is that air has leaked in with some sort of contamination causing the discoloration on the coin. Even if this were to have occurred in the mint, it still would not have any value as surface discoloration – distinguished from a defect or change in the metal itself – is not a minting variety of value.

Is there any chance that the Mint would deliberately strike additional examples of some rare, new variety after it appears? I see that they have duplicated some of the hubbing varieties.

This was one of numerous rumors that floated about and were quoted widely on the Internet and some of the online services. The duplication referred to occurred only under test conditions by the Mint and was done only to determine exactly how a given variety occurred so that corrective measures could be taken to prevent it from recurring.

I can’t find any dealer listings for the wide rim variety of the 1979-P Anthony dollar. Are they really that rare?

There is no such thing as a “wide rim variety.” There are wide and narrow rims, but either can be found on both the near- and far-date 1979-P SBA dollars, so the width of the rim is not a valid marker. The only marker you can go by is whether the date is close to the rim or far from it. All of the later date “P,” “D” and “S” dollars have the near date, so you can check it against any of those. The 1979-D and -S both have the far date. As to rarity, the near-date variety came out of the Treasury vaults in bag quantities for several months.

What’s the difference between the two types of 1886 Indian Head cents that dealers offer in their ads? I’ve checked all my references and can’t find anything. Is this some new discovery?

This is one of those frequent cases where a variety is so old that it’s new to a lot of collectors. The 1886 Variety 1 matches all previous dates, with the last feather of the bonnet pointing between the “IC” in “AMERICA.” On Variety 2, the feather points between “CA.” All dates after 1886 are the Variety 2, so by comparing an earlier and a later date you can find the difference. Mintages for the two varieties were about evenly divided, so there is no particular premium for either variety.

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