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Tests don’t destroy

According to Judd’s reference book on U.S. pattern coins, many similar metallic compositions can only be distinguished from each other through elemental analysis, which the text describes as “a complicated procedure” (9th edition, Page 7). Is such procedure one that is destructive to the coin or not?

Non-destructive testing is used to determine the metal content of a coin, medal, token, or pattern. A specific gravity test can answer a lot of questions. There are many conductivity meters that are now employed to determine metal content. As an example, information accompanying Fisher Technology’s SigmaScope reads, “Inclusions change the electrical conductivity significantly, therefore, using a comparative measurement of electrical conductivity allows for reliable quick and non-destructive identification of counterfeits.”

Recently I heard on a television coin show that Numismatic Guaranty Corporation was the official grading company for the ANA. If that is true, who is ANACS grading company?


Numismatic Guaranty Corporation has been the official grading company for the American Numismatic Association for many years. If you are an American Numismatic Association member, you can submit coins to NGC directly rather than through a member-dealer. ANACS was founded by the ANA but later sold in 1990. It is now an independent business.

Is there any added value to gold and silver rounds or bars when these have a serial number stamped into them?

Serial numbers on rounds or ingots are an added assurance they will be genuine. For that reason, people are willing to pay an additional premium for these above similar issues lacking serial numbers.

What about rounds and bars that don’t have serial numbers but are accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity on which there is a serial number?

Certificates of Authenticity may help to sell a round or ingot initially but have little value in the secondary market, since the certificate can be matched to any bar or ingot of a particular type.

How is it determined which side of a coin is the obverse and which is the reverse?

The obverse is that side of the coin whose die was fixed in the stationary or anvil position when struck. The reverse is the upper die, which moves in a modern press and was used as the hammer on hand-struck coins of the past. For world coin catalog purposes, the side that shows a monarch or otherwise identifies the country in the obverse. For this purpose, American Presidents and other historical figures perform the same function as monarchs in determining the obverse.

I understand how the 1937-D Three-Legged Buffalo nickel came to be. What other coins are popularly collected due to a die variety due to overpolishing?

There are a number of overpolished die errors to be collected. Some are better known than are others. Adolph A. Weinman’s initials are absent on a number of dates in the Walking Liberty half dollar series, this being due to coin dies being overpolished. The 1922-D cent lacking the mintmark is another.

I understand that during 1965 silver dollar production began, but the coins were never issued. Why were they even struck at all?

An executive order from the President to the Treasury Department to strike the coins was issued in early 1965 due to pressure being applied by influential Western silver and mining interests.

Why weren’t the 1965 silver dollar coins issued?

The coins were reported to be dated 1964 although they were struck during 1965. At the time, there was a serious shortage of coins in circulation. Silvio Conte, a ranking minority member of the House Banking Committee from Massachusetts, threatened to block the Coinage Act of 1965 when he learned coinage press time was being given to striking these impractical coins.

Do we know for certain that no 1965 Peace silver dollars exist?

We can’t be certain, but it is known two examples kept in a Washington laboratory were destroyed in 1970 when their existence was publicized. Adverse publicity by the government regarding ownership of such coins has since discouraged any other existing examples from being acknowledged.

What did the government have to say about the private ownership of any 1964-dated Peace dollars?

Following an ad appearing in The Numismatist in 1970, through which a coin dealer announced he was willing to pay $3,000 for any 1964 Peace dollar, the Treasury Department issued a press release denying the existence of any such coins while threatening seizure of any that might surface. Such a response raises suspicions examples might have left the Denver Mint via the back door.

Just how important is the existence of investors to the value of U.S. coins?

I don’t have any statistics, but we know from experience that when the 1981 Tax Reform Act banned investing in rare coins for self-directed pension plans, the impact on the coin market was devastating. Investors factor into the demand side of the equation. Prices rise in any area in which there is a fixed supply but increasing demand either from investors or collectors.

Is there a story behind someone trying to create rare 1947 silver pennies? I’ve attached photos of my penny. It is not steel as it failed the magnet test. It weighs 3.12 grams, so I am guessing someone plated a standard penny with a process similar to today’s colorized coins. I have not been able to find anything on the Internet, so I’m hoping you can help.

There was discussion about such a “silver” 1947 Lincoln cent during 2015. The coin turned out to be plated. That is mostly likely in this case as well. Examine the coin under magnification to see if copper can be seen through wear or scratches in the surface. If it appears to be genuine, you may want to consider submitting it to a third-party certification service.

Why was the reverse of the Indian Head cent changed between 1859 and 1860?

The only hint we have is from U.S. Mint Director James Pollock’s correspondence to Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase on Dec. 13, 1859: “A modification of the devices on the reverse of the cent is desirable.”

Why were Victor D. Brenner’s initials criticized on the 1909 Lincoln cents?

According to The Numismatist, “…the designer’s mark (initials V.D.B.) appeared a little more prominent than on the coins now in use. This was brought to the attention of the Secretary of the Treasury, who, we are informed, without question as to custom or propriety of designer’s marks, ordered the coinage stopped.”

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