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Error nicknames date back years

 (Image courtesy

(Image courtesy

I know that fanciful names were popular for minting varieties in the 1960s and that different type coin designs have been nicknamed, but were there similar slang terms for die breaks on older coins?

There are numerous examples in the old listings. One in particular that stands out is the 1817 cent as there are at least four different dies that show a small die break above the Liberty head. These were variously called a dolphin, a snail, a mouse or a rat head. Certainly these are not too different than the alligator, flying saucer, baseball bat, floating head and other nicknames that confounded variety collectors in the 1960s.

Somewhere I read that there were less than two dozen coin dealers in the United States at the turn of the century. Is that figure accurate?

Narrowing it down even further, my source says there were “21 coin dealers in the United States in 1900.” Looking at today’s multitudes, one would have to call it a growing hobby.

If it’s illegal to put a living person on our notes, how come the 1861 $10 was made with Abraham Lincoln’s portrait?

The law prohibiting living persons on our currency came later. The catalyst was Spencer M. Clark, who was head of the National Currency Bureau, which would later become the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Clark put himself on the five-cent Fractional notes. As a result of complaints and an unwarranted attack by Rep. James Brooks, Congress decided to prevent the incident from happening again and passed the law prohibiting the practice.

Did the U.S. Treasury ever handle the mail?

Up until 1829 the Postal Service was a part of the Treasury. The Public Health Service was also a branch of the Treasury Department at that time.

Did the German government once issue an egg note?

This is no yolk ... er, joke. The 1918 German 50-mark notes had the denomination above a plain oval that looks like nothing else but an egg. There was another style 50-mark note that year, known as the “mourning note” due to its heavy black border.

Wasn’t there some sort of uncomplimentary nickname for the Flying Eagle cents when they first were issued?

The public has a habit of turning up its nose at new coin designs. The Flying Eagle cent was no exception. It quickly got a sneer from traditionalists, and as a result, the coin was nicknamed the “buzzard” cent.

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