Skip to main content

Gold $5 value matched several world coins

United States half eagles from the early 1800s were close in value to Portuguese, French and British coins.
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

? Did the U.S. half eagle match any foreign coins in value during the early 1800s?
Probably one reason why the $5 gold coin was struck during that period was because it closely matched several world coins. Among them were the Portuguese 4000 reis and 2 escudo, the French Louis d?or and 24 livres, and the British guinea and sovereign. By contrast, the $10 eagle matched only a couple of low-mintage coins.


? I have a nearly complete set of Mercury dimes with doubled dates. Any idea what it is worth?
It will both startle and disappoint you to learn that, in all likelihood, every one of your coins is damaged. They are worth less than the normal numismatic value for each date, mint and grade. Mercury dimes, like most other U.S. coins, were prone to machine doubling damage, especially in the date area. Thousands upon thousands of them have been religiously saved by collectors who were unaware of the real cause of the doubling.

? I have a cent with a very odd edge, and the rims are a different color than normal. What might have caused it?
Examination of the coin in question showed that it had discoloring of the rims. This is often seen on uncirculated coins. They display circular scratches or scrapes. Copper-alloy coins will usually display some rather odd purplish colors. It was caused by the coins being caught under the fence in a mechanical coin counter, and the moving parts scraped them against the sharp edge of the fence.

? Is there a difference between a bent love token and a bent witch?s coin?
The old custom was that a coin was bent once or broken in two as a love token, and each lover received a half. A coin was bent twice to ward off witches. This eventually grew into the lucky coin. Coins were usually thinner back then, so they were easily bent. This was especially true of the Massachusetts silver coins, which were popular as a protection from witches.

Address questions to Coin Clinic, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Because of space limitations, we are unable to publish all questions. Include a loose 41-cent stamp for reply. Write first for specific mailing instructions before submitting numismatic material. We cannot accept unsolicited items. E-mail inquiries should be sent to