Local coin club quiz asked participants to name all denominations of circulating U.S. coins they could

Coin Lore column from the July 21, 2014, issue of Coin World
By , Special to Coin World
Published : 07/02/14
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The question on a local coin club quiz — List as many denominations of circulating U.S. coins as you can — seemed simple. The answer was not.

Quizmaster Jonathan Goodfellow prepared the question as a tiebreaker. Two members had answered the previous nine questions correctly. They both had different answers for the tiebreaker.

I anticipated that some club members would insist that a silver 3-cent piece was a different denomination from a copper-nickel 3-cent piece. 

As I was the fill-in quizmaster (Goodfellow had moved away by the time the quiz was given), I ruled that a denomination was a coin’s value, regardless of the coin’s metallic content. A dollar is a dollar, be it gold, silver or something else.

With that in mind, I had 15 denominations: half cent, cent, 2 cents, 3 cents, 5 cents, dime, 20 cents, quarter dollar, half dollar, dollar, $2.50, $3, $5, $10 and $20. The correct answer in my mind was 15 different denominations.

Not, so fast, said fellow club member and Coin World columnist John Roberts. 

John, a Morgan and Peace dollar VAM authority, can always find a different way to look at a coin and at a numismatic question.

What about the Trade dollar?

The Trade dollar, minted from 1873 to 1885, is an odd animal.

It has about 2 percent more silver than a Morgan dollar and wasn’t supposed to circulate in the United States. 

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