What does the 'FG' your coin's reverse stand for?

Let's dive into the mailbag and see if we can help a collector out with getting the information they need.
By , Coin World
Published : 04/22/12
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Readers ask, Coin World answers. 

Let's dive into the mailbag and see if we can help a collector out with getting the information they need. 

1964 Kennedy half dollar with no Mint mark

Q: I have a 1964 Kennedy half dollar with no Mint mark, but it does have what I think is “FG” between the leg and tail feathers on the reverse. I cannot find any reference to it in your magazine.

W.B. BakerBenton, Miss.

A:The “FG” on the reverse of the Kennedy half dollar are the initials of Frank Gasparro, an assistant sculptor-engraver at the U.S. Mint in 1964 who later became chief engraver in 1965.

On U.S. coins, Gasparro’s “FG” can also be spotted on the Lincoln Memorial reverse (1959 to 2008) of the Lincoln cent and on the Eisenhower and Anthony dollars.

While this information is not featured in Coin World’s weekly or monthly issues, it can be found in the Coin World Guide to U.S. Coins and Coin World Almanac.

Regarding the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition “penny” featured in the March 19 “Readers Ask,” Alex A. Pancheco of Tipsico Coin LLC, Corvallis, Ore., writes (edited for space):

Connect with Coin World:  

The token in your column is struck in bronze. As to who made it, if you find a well preserved piece, you will note that it is clearly marked ‘Shreve & Co.’ on the reverse at the rim between the wreath and raised rim about 4:00. This is of course the famous San Francisco jewelry firm, which produced a number of 1915 Panama-Pacific related souvenir items. If I understand the relationship between the Expo organization and the vendors who appeared on their grounds, all of the goods produced and sold therein were officially licensed by the Expo, and most if not all made use of one of several ‘official designs’ as part of the item produced. These crests or designs can be seen on many of the listed ‘So-Called Dollars’ such as [Hibler-Kappen] 410, 412 and 413 (‘Sailing Ship’ obverse); HK-409 (‘Winged Victory on Prow’ obverse); or HK-419 (‘1915 within a circle’ obverse).

My opinion is, the 38-mm Shreve pieces were probably produced first, and primarily meant for distribution around the San Francisco area. The larger 45-mm copper pieces may have been made in the Southern California area as outright copies of the Shreve design, with just enough changes to avoid a legal battle, and meant to be distributed in and around Los Angeles/San Diego in concert with the Pan-California Expo.

As far as quality goes, it is a well-made piece, certainly better engraved and struck than most common ‘souvenirs.

Hopefully, this will help in clearing up the mystery, or at least give others some food for thought.

Coin World’s Readers Ask department does not accept coins or other items for examination without prior permission from staff member Erik Martin. Readers Ask also does not examine error or variety coins. Materials sent to Readers Ask without prior permission will be returned unexamined. Please address all Readers Ask inquiries to emartin@coinworld.com or call 800-673-8311, Ext. 274.

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