US Coins

Inside Coin World: Nova Constellatio replica

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Reader’s find is a replica of a rare coin

In his “Readers Ask” column for the Sept. 17 issue of Coin World, Steve Roach responds to a collector who has what resembles a rare 1783 pattern. Steve writes, “The piece seems to depict the design of the unique 1,000-unit Nova Constellatio pattern — called a mark — which was among the Nova Constellatio patterns that represent the first patterns for a coinage of the United States.”

However, expert David McCarthy of Kagin’s told Steve that the reader’s “particular example appears to be one of the cast reproductions that began appearing in the 1950s or 1960s. They turn up fairly frequently, and don’t seem to garner much collector interest.” 

Read more about the rare Nova Constellatio patterns and what makes them so special in the “Readers Ask” column, found exclusively in the print and digital edition of Coin World.

What a difference a few ‘bell lines’ can make

In my “Coin Values Spotlight,” I profile a common coin from a series that just about every collector can afford to complete: the 1953-S Franklin half dollar. The coin, with a mintage of more than 4.1 million pieces, is very common and inexpensive even in mid-level Mint State grades.

So why have some examples sold for $17,000 and more?

Collectors often focus on the reverse of Franklin half dollars, looking for what the hobby calls “full bell lines.” Well-struck pieces may exhibit sharpness in the details of the bottom set of lines around the Liberty Bell.

Some pieces are scarce with the full bell lines designation, and the 1953-S Franklin half dollar is extremely rare in Mint State 65 full bell lines. Some pieces with that grade have sold for more than $20,000, compared to $100 for a typical MS-65 example.

Read more in the “Coin Values Spotlight” column in the Sept. 17 issue of Coin World.

Book contains formerly buried treasure

Joel Orosz writes about a book focused on treasure hunting that is different than the many books on the subject: it contains a Spanish colonial coin that was once part of a buried treasure hoard.

In his “Numismatic Bookie” column, Joel reviews Edward Rowe Snow’s 1951 book, True Tales of Buried Treasure. The book relates stories of hidden treasure, with one chapter detailing the author's successful personal efforts at finding one hidden hoard. A special edition of the book features a coin from the hoard and an autograph by the author.

You can read more in Joel’s column in the Sept. 17 issue of Coin World.

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