I have an important question, regarding an 1854 half dime. I
attended an estate auction. Upon entering and checking some other
coins, the auctioneer told me he had an 1854-CC half dime. Not
thinking anything of it, I checked it with my loupe; it was worn on
the face and back, but the date and CC Mint mark were very plain.
When it went up for bid I went to $40. I couldn’t figure out why
it went so high; it sold for $160. When I went home, I checked and
learned they never made an 1854-CC.
I contacted the auctioneer to track down the buyer, because I want
another look at this coin.
I know what I saw, but can you enlighten me on this?
New Castle, Pa.
Before further discussion, a genuine 1854-CC Seated Liberty half
dime is an utter impossibility.
First, Carson City, Nev., home to the Branch Mint whose coins bear
the CC Mint mark, did not exist in 1854. The community itself was not
founded until 1858; in 1854, a small outpost was the only gathering at
the future site of the city.
The region was still sparsely inhabited by Americans in 1854,
although that would change as reports of gold finds spread during the
decade, and the existence of the Comstock Lode of silver-bearing ore
became public in 1859. The Nevada Territory would be established March
2, 1861, after the population had grown sufficiently large enough to
persuade Congress to authorize territorial status.
Second and more important, the Carson City Branch Mint did not
open until 1870, after the large silver finds in the region made the
establishment of a Mint in Carson City practical. Third, even after
its establishment, the Carson City Mint never struck half dimes.
Given these factors, it is easy to see that an 1854-CC half dime
or any Carson City Mint coin of that date is an impossibility.
However, counterfeits of impossible design, date, Mint mark and
denomination combinations have been produced in China and have entered
the U.S. marketplace. Some have even been artificially circulated to
If reader Welsh gets to examine the coin again, he should
carefully compare its designs to genuine 1854 half dimes. The half
dime designs of 1853 to 1859 are quite different from the half dime
designs of 1860 to 1873, in the style of the Seated Liberty figure,
the style of wreath and the placement of legends. If the date and Mint
mark combination are as he remembers, he may find that the coin has
additional, design-related inaccuracies.
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