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Coin Clinic: What Are World War Two Tokens Made Of?

Are World War Two ration tokens made of cardboard?

The tokens are made of vulcanized fiber. The dyes used to make the tokens blue or red included an ultraviolet component meant to deter counterfeiters.

Why were these ration tokens produced? Weren’t there enough coins in circulation?

Many metals were considered too critical to the war effort to be spared for use in coins during the years of World War Two. The ration system brought about through the War Powers Act of 1942 included War Ration Coupon booklets. These tokens were meant to be the small change accompanying the coupons.

Would you explain the term “peeking mouse” that describes some Large Cent varieties?

The so-called peeking mouse is an unusual and distinct die break appearing above the head on several 1817 Coronet cent varieties.

I’m curious who makes up the values of coins list. Does it come from the author of the Red Book?

Market prices published in Numismatic News are based on reportable sales transactions, using third party graded coins where possible to ensure accuracy. I am unaware of how the Red Book establishes the prices it publishes.

I sometimes see dealers selling rolls of proof coins. Given the fragile quality of proofs, doesn’t the act of putting them in contact in the rolls, and the inevitable shifting which comes from handling of the rolls, impair their quality?

Proof coins that have not been mishandled can grade anywhere between Proof 60 and Proof 70, with Proof 70 being the so-called perfect coin. There may not necessarily be any shifting of proof coins in a roll, depending on how tightly the coins are packed, but dealers often try to pick out the best examples and exclude them from these rolls.

Do you know the reason there were more San Francisco than Philadelphia minted 20-cent coins in 1875, the first year of issue?

There were two reasons why more coins in total were produced at the western mints in San Francisco and Carson City than at the eastern mint at Philadelphia. The first was the anticipation of more demand for the denomination in the West. That demand, of course, didn’t materialize. The Philadelphia mintage was also modest due to congressional expectation of the price of silver dropping to a level at which Congress would be willing to authorize the redemption of fractional denomination paper money with silver.