Paper Money

Freedom and Liberty ring during the 19th century

Crawford’s statue of Freedom, with the change in headwear demanded by Jefferson Davis, appears on the left end of this note.

Original images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

Coin World's latest weekly edition is out the doors and will be in the hands of subscribers shortly. Here, we present previews of a few of its columns, all found exclusively in the print and digital editions of the Jan. 22 issue of Coin World.

Freedom and Liberty on display in 19th century

Wendell Wolka continues his “Collecting Paper” series about allegorical figures found on 19th century notes with a look at representations of Freedom and Liberty. “These are popular subjects — it is hard for anyone to be against either, and bankers felt safe using figures that represent these universally loved and appreciated concepts,” he writes in the column exclusive to the digital and print editions of the Jan. 22 issue of Coin World.

Wolka continues, “An allegorical Liberty is pretty easy to identify. The almost universal image is of a maiden holding a long pole with a Liberty cap on its end,” adding, “Freedom is a bit more abstract representation, an allegorical female typically shown bearing a sword, shield, and/or helmet.”

Auction catalogs set a high standard

“Twenty years ago this month, the greatest series of American numismatic auctions ever devoted to the specialties of Colonial coins and important American medals began its 18-year run,” writes John Kraljevich Jr. in his “Colonial America” column. Stack’s Americana catalogs today “remain vital reference works on these fields of study,” he says.

“Including two spin-off auctions held in Philadelphia in September 2009 and 2010, the Stack’s … Americana sales during this run totaled 20,” he added, concluding, “The catalogs remain useful, with plenty of original research and obscure items described nowhere else.”

What caused Liberty’s ‘spiked chin’?

The various die marriages for the 1804 Draped Bust, Spiked Chin half cent have long been popular with collectors. Among the obverse die’s many oddities are projections from Liberty’s lips and chin (resembling a tongue and spike, respectively), and some curved lines in the lower right-hand fields. But, as one reader asks, what caused these marks?

William T. Gibbs writes in his “Readers Ask” response, “It is theorized that the two marks are damage inflicted by the head of a bolt that had fallen between the obverse die and a planchet. The ‘wavy’ or curved lines described by the reader may represent the threads of the bolt.”

When Mint workers used acid on a die

The VAM-45B die marriage of the 1879-S Morgan dollar is an odd one, writes John Roberts in his “About VAMs” column. Some of the design elements were “so atypical that the marriage was listed as a contemporary counterfeit for several years.”

When San Francisco Mint workers used acid on the marriage’s reverse die, “treating the weakened areas with acid did bring back much of the lost detail, but the areas also took on an unnatural splotchy look.” Learn why the workers used the acid in Roberts’ column, found only in the digital and print editions of Coin World.

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