By the time of the Civil War, 1861 to 1865, the field of numismatics
It was expected that silver and gold coins, long hoarded by the
public, would reappear in 1865. This did not happen. Citizens were
distrustful of money, especially of legal tender notes and national
bank notes, which could not be exchanged for coins of precious metals,
but only for other notes. In circulation that year were copper-nickel
cents, bronze 2-cent coins, and copper-nickel 3-cent coins.
It would be years until silver and gold coins were available at
banks in the East and Midwest.
Most large cities had coin shops. The typical store also sold
stamps, autographs, Indian relics, prints, and other collectible objects.
Popular series included Colonial coins and paper money, copper cents
and half cents from 1793 onward, early silver coins of the 1794 to
1838 years, gold coins from 1795 to 1834, patterns, early tokens and
store cards, Civil War tokens, and medals.
Auctions were held frequently. The two leading catalogers were W.
Elliot Woodward of Roxbury, Mass., well-respected for his in-depth
knowledge of numismatics and history, and Edward D. Cogan of New York
City, whose expertise was sufficient to get by. E.L. Mason Jr., a
dealer, issued his own combined news magazine and price lists, often
with comments criticizing his competitors.
Collectors on their own had to evaluate coins, their grades, prices,
and overall desirability.
In July 1866, the American Numismatic & Archeological Society
launched the American Journal of Numismatics. It was filled
with news of auctions, new coin designs, and other events, feature
articles on many subjects, questions and answers, and more.
In response to an inquiry, in the first issue the editor advised
that the best collections in the country were those of Charles
Bushnell, Joseph J. Mickley, and Matthew A. Stickney.
The new Shield 5-cent coin inspired this comment plus a swipe at
Mint officers for privately selling rarities for their own profit:
“Though collectors have long ceased to regard the true issues of the
‘government copper-head factory,’ better known, perhaps, as the United
States Mint, as of any value, they may be interested in the
information that the ugliest of all known coins, the new five cent
piece, is out, as oysters are served in some places ‘in every style.’ ”
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