■ What triggered the massive number of commemorative half dollar issues of 1935 and beyond?
In 1929, President Herbert Hoover declared no more commemorative coins would be issued. He was followed by stamp collecting enthusiast Franklin D. Roosevelt, under whom vast numbers of commemorative stamp issues were encouraged. This soon opened the flood gate for commemorative half dollars as well.
■ We complain today that the Mint produces more products annually than most collectors can afford. What was the attitude towards the massive output of commemorative half dollars during the 1930s?
Numismatic Scrapbook Editor Lee F. Hewitt commented in the August 1936 issue: “With 15 new issues out to buy this year I’m afraid some of us will run out of money, and it is possible that some issues may go begging before they sell their 20 or 25 thousand pieces.”
■ [Dr. William H.] Sheldon’s grading system is widely used today. When did the controversy over how to grade a coin start?
The controversy over how to grade a coin has likely been with us as long as there have been people interested in collecting coins. There have been situations in which there was a total disregard for grading, such as when coins were lacquered or when, during the Renaissance, some collectors used a punch to mark their coins. A uniform grading system was proposed right after the founding of the American Numismatic Association in 1891.
■ I understand that, within a specific numerical coin grade, there may be “low end” and “premium quality: coins. Can you explain this difference, if there is any?
Third-party certification and grading services encapsulate a coin with a numerical grade assigned to that coin. Strike quality, luster, brilliance or toning, and the overall aesthetic appeal are additional aspects to be considered when buying or selling a coin.
■ Reader Steve McGowan offers the following comment to the recent question regarding if 2021 Morgan and Peace silver dollars are money:
“If a coin has a denomination and a date, it is in fact money. In other words, it can be spent. If someone is dumb enough to spend those dollars at face-value then I'd say they just lost a lot of money.”
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