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Hard alloy created minting varieties

Why is it that there are so many date varieties within the Shield nickel series?


The metal hardness of the copper-nickel and the inexperience of the U.S. Mint with such a challenging coin of such a composition were the likely culprits. The life of a coinage die was greatly diminished for both reasons.

Buffalo nickels carved into Hobo nickels appear to have been popular at one time. Was there anything similar to the Hobo nickel engravings that was previously as popular?

At one time? Hobo nickels are still are popular. But historically, love tokens were popular during the 1880s and 1890s. However beginning in the 1850s some Seated Liberty coins were carved to make Liberty appear to be sitting on a chamber pot. It has been estimated that between the chamber pot and love token engravings likely hundreds of thousands of coins were altered.

Was any individual responsible for the Hobo nickel’s popularity?

Hobo nickels appeared almost as soon as did the Indian head design on our five-cent coin. Bertram “Bert” Wiegand and his student George “Bo” Washington Hughes are considered to have been the finest artists for this type of work.

How can I tell if a Hobo nickel is contemporary or modern?

Most relatively modern Hobo nickels are made with power tools. This leaves telltale marks, such as a rough area behind the head. Watch for arcs, crescents, dashes, dots and stars made using punches rather than being engraved by hand. Many of the modern designs including those of a person wearing a derby, or occupational themes such a fireman or railway engineer were not used by the early engravers.

When information about an upcoming auction is published, it seems that everything mentioned in the article is “according to catalogers,” a phrase which I see over and over in these articles. Suppose I was a Numismatic News writer assigned to write an article detailing the highlights of an upcoming auction. Suppose I know something about a coin in the auction that is not mentioned in the official catalog. Am I allowed to mention this in my article? Suppose I feel that a coin in an upcoming auction has been overgraded; the cataloger’s estimate is way off the mark; I know something about the pedigree of a coin that is not mentioned? Am I allowed to mention this?

It is a journalistic attribution or disclaimer when something cited or quoted in an article is identified as “according to…” Sometimes straight news is reported, while other times it is news commentary. You view the same two presentation formats on television news. The disclaimer identifies which you are viewing. A news commentary is the appropriate place to address issues such as possible over-grading, over-pricing, and the like.

I am looking for information about several coins.

Reader Travis Griffith submitted images of several military challenge “coins,” these actually being medallions on which the color-enhanced insignia or emblem of the organization are depicted. These are traditionally given to members of the organization to prove membership.

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• The 1800s were a time of change for many, including in coin production. See how coin designs grew during the time period in the Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900 .

• The Standard Catalog of United States Paper Money is the only annual guide that provides complete coverage of U.S. currency with today’s market prices.