US Coins

Coin collecting in the United States changed forever

The growth of coin collecting got a huge boost in 1857 when the last large cents were struck. As small copper-nickel cents entered circulation, Americans, spurred by nostalgia, began pulling large cents from circulation, though with no understanding as to which cents were rare, writes Q. David Bowers.

Original images courtesy of American Numismatic Rarities.

The latest Coin World weekly issue, dated Oct. 16, 2017, is out the door, and we present exclusive previews of a few articles, to be found also in your latest digital edition of Coin World.

When coin collecting in the United States finally took off

By the 1830s, several hundred coin collectors were active in the United States, with that number starting to grow in the 1850s, writes Q. David Bowers in “Joys of Collecting.” The big boost came in 1858 when the government stopped issuing half cents and replaced the old copper large cent with a smaller copper-nickel cent.

“A wave of nostalgia swept across America,” Bowers writes, adding “A scramble ensued to acquire one of each date of cent minted since 1793. … By 1858, with Flying Eagle cents common in circulation and copper coins disappearing, a great passion arose for collecting cents.”

Doubled die variety has something else different

A Proof 1968-S Washington quarter dollar with a doubled die reverse has been shown to have a different kind of variety on the obverse — a repunched S Mint mark. In his “Varieties Notebook” column, John Wexler reports on the discovery by a reader.

“The obverse of the coin exhibits a nice repunched Mint mark that would be identified as an S/S West,” he explains, noting that this is a new discovery and adding, “Working dies for the Proof quarter dollars of this era struck about 2,200 Proof coins before being retired from use, making both the doubled die reverse and the RPM obverse quite rare.”

What book is a modern coin researcher’s secret weapon?

Modern researchers have a “secret weapon” in a book published at the end of the 1980s, writes Joel Orosz in his “Numismatic Bookie” column. The book helps numismatists understand how coins were made in centuries past.

Denis R. Cooper’s The Art and Craft of Coinmaking: A History of Minting Technology, is a classic work, Orosz writes, saying that “no one was better qualified to write the book on the history of minting technology” than Cooper, chief engineer and superintendent of Britain’s Royal Mint and later founder of a company that designed and sold specialized coining machinery.”


Why some wayward ‘grease’ caused great excitement in 1989

A coin struck from a grease-filled die is a common and generally inexpensive form of error. For Washington quarter dollars, the Mint mark on the obverse is a frequent target for the accumulation of grease that prevents the Mint mark from being formed, notes the “Readers Ask” column. Most such coins are worth a couple of dollars.

In 1989, however, publicity and market promotion of a 1989 Washington quarter dollar lacking a Mint mark pushed prices well above normal levels, to more than $100. Error coin specialists were so upset at the overinflated prices being charged that the largest organization of error experts issued a public statement that said the coin some dealers were selling for $150 was worth just $3. 

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