Inside Coin World: Note shows Washington Monument as it should have looked

The original design of the monument was much different than the finished structure
By , Coin World
Published : 06/08/18
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The Washington Monument could have looked a lot different

Funding problems, organizational issues, and the advent of the Civil War delayed completion of the Washington Monument in the nation’s capital for more than two decades. The delays also played a role in keeping the monument from looking like the original design.

As Wendell Wolka writes in his column “Collecting Paper,” the original design selected in 1845 featured “a large circular building 100 feet tall surrounding an obelisk that would extend 500 feet above it, at a total height of 600 feet.” Had this version of the design been implemented, the monument would have looked much different than it does today and it would have been even taller. To learn more, read Wendell’s column exclusive to the print and digital editions of the June 25, 2018, issue of Coin World.

Die cracks keys to identifying Peace dollar variety

As part of his job at ANACS, John Roberts travels to coin shows several times a year, and while at a show, he often walks the bourse floor, talks with others, and buys coins that catch his fancy. As he writes in his June 25 “About VAMs” column, a recent purchase was a VAM-2O2 1922-D Peace dollar.


original design for the Washington Monument Inside Coin World: Note shows Washington Monument as it should have looked: A 19th century note shows the Washington Monument in its original though abandoned form. Also in the June 25 Coin World, a coin scandal begins in 1935.


This die marriage is identifiable by a series of die cracks on both the obverse and reverse. The variety, while not rare, is still interesting, John writes. Read his column to learn how to identify the VAM-2O2 die marriage.

Retro die placement at the Denver Mint

In the last decade of the 20th century and first decade of the 21st, the U.S. Mint began moving away from traditional die placement, in which the obverse die was the hammer die, to making the reverse die the hammer die and the obverse die the anvil die. However, convention orientation lasted a few years longer.

As Mike Diamond writes in his “Collectors’ Clearinghouse” column in the June 25 issue, for some 2004 and 2007 coins, all struck at the Denver Mint, the obverse die provided the force as the hammer die during striking. He can tell this by examining certain error coins that clearly illustrate this conventional setup. To learn more, see his column in the print and digital editions.

Notorious scandal in the coin community

One of the most scandalous periods in American numismatics began with “Frank Dunn of Lexington, Kentucky, [who] was in charge of marketing the half dollars made for the Daniel Boone Bicentennial in 1934,” writes Q. David Bowers in his “The Joys of Collecting” column in the June 25 Coin World. Dunn was not satisfied with selling the coins in only 1934. He wanted more profits.

He got the Mint to strike the coins again in 1935, this time at all three Mint facilities, with mintages for two of the coins extremely low. While he offered to sell the low-mintage coins for just a few dollars, many who ordered them at the original price were informed that they had been sold out. In reality, Dunn had kept most to sell at an enormous markup later.

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