US Coins

The peak of Olympic gold coins: Inside Coin World

Elizabeth Jones’ design for the obverse of the 1988 Olympic Games gold $5 half eagle is stunning, but it's not without its critics. Some objected to striking coins at all for Games not held in the United States. Our latest print issue delivers the view from both sides of the coin.

The latest Coin World issue, dated Aug. 14, 2017, has been sent to the presses, and we have a quick preview of some Coin World exclusives, to be found also in our latest digital edition.

The belle of Olympic gold: a modern masterpiece

Elizabeth Jones’ design for the obverse of the 1988 Olympic Games gold $5 half eagle “continues to be lauded for its beauty,” writes Scott Schechter in his “Making Moderns” column. Jones, chief engraver of the U.S. Mint at the time, created a design that portrays Nike, the goddess of victory.

While the design is considered a modern masterpiece by many, some were critical of the program since the Olympic Games were not held in the United States, and some objected to the pairing of the design with a reverse by another artist in a modernistic style that clashed with the classical obverse design.

A token made of hard rubber promoting pencils?

Tokens, like coins, can be made of many different substances, but a piece featured in David T. Alexander’s “The Research Desk” is a real oddity. It is made of hard rubber, a substance that once played a broader role than it does now. “This era was a kind of golden age for the American token, and hard rubber was used to produce quantities of merchants’ tokens, political medals and badges,” Alexander writes.

The subject of the circa 1890 token is unusual as well. It was issued by the American Pencil Co. and promotes a pair of patents for that age-old writing instrument.

Eye-catching finds await roll searcher after exam

Bill O’Rourke’s eyes were still recovering from an eye exam and he was wearing a cheap pair of dark glasses when he stepped into his local bank where his regular teller awaited him. “From about 10 feet away, she told me that she had something very special for me. As I approached the counter, I took my silly looking glasses off and noticed something in her coin tray.”

He adds, “Superbly gleaming at me from the half dollar section of the tray, I immediately discerned that all of the coins were silver.”

Key-date Morgan dollar is a counterfeit

“The 1889-CC Morgan silver dollar is one of the key dates to the series,” writes Michael Fahey in his “Detecting Counterfeits” column. Therefore, it’s no surprise that counterfeits, like the one ANACS recently examined, exist.

“The fake 1889-CC Morgan dollar shown here is a bit more deceptive than what we usually see. The weight, diameter, thickness and metal composition are all accurate, and while the finer details of the design are a bit weak and ragged, this feature can only be seen under good lighting with a quality magnifier,” he writes.

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