US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Dec. 31, 2018

An 1843-C Coronet, Small Date gold quarter eagle identified as a new die variety for the coin has been found to be an altered 1843-O coin instead.

Original images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

In the Jan. 14 print issue of Coin World, we begin publishing the first portion of our Top 10 Stories of 2018. Whatever is not published this week is scheduled to appear in the Jan. 21 issue.

Publishing our Top 10 coverage has become an annual practice. As in many years, many of the 2018 articles contain a U.S. Mint connection. Seven of this year’s Top 10 stories focus on Mint programs or actions — not surprising given that the Mint is one of the major focuses in our news coverage. They are: the 2018 American Innovations dollar, the appearance of another 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle, the first U.S. “pink gold” coin, the 2018 World War I silver medals, the appointment of a new Mint director, the Mint’s growing awareness of the counterfeiting of its products, and the 2018 American Liberty palladium coin.

Bill O’Rourke 1923-S Peace dollarInside Coin World: Finding a 1923-S Peace dollar in circulation: We preview columns exclusive to the Jan. 14 print and digital editions of Coin World, including “Found in Rolls” and “Detecting Counterfeits.”

Two articles feature a paper money theme, including my piece this week on the refusal of the current White House to provide legislators and the news media with a definitive answer to whether the $5, $10, and $20 Federal Reserve notes will be redesigned as ordered under the Obama White House. Also on tap, for the Jan. 21 issue, is coverage of the most important collection of U.S. paper money to be offered at auction in decades.

The remaining article, which appears in the Jan. 14 issue, focuses on collector discoveries in circulation.

About a recent ‘discovery’

While discussing discoveries, the Jan. 14 issue contains a Letter to the Editor from the chief cataloger at Heritage Auctions, and is about a coin that was discussed in an article written by another Heritage cataloger that we published in our Dec. 17 issue. 

The coin had been identified as a new variety of 1843-C Coronet, Small Date quarter eagle — a major discovery. A number of Heritage experts had examined the coin and thought that it was a new variety, and it had been certified (though without the new variety attribution) by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. with a grade of About Uncirculated Details, Scratches, Cleaned. This level of expert scrutiny was strong enough that I felt comfortable in publishing the article (the expert scrutiny of the coin met our standards). However, further examination of the coin by at least one other expert revealed that the quarter eagle was actually an altered 1843-O coin, with the O Mint mark altered to mimic a C Mint mark. 

In numismatics, like in any field of specialized study, new observations can reverse an earlier judgment. Everyone involved in the decision to attribute the coin as a new variety, to certify it as genuine, and to publish the findings, based their findings on the best available evidence at the time. This was not the first time an opinion on a coin was reversed after further study, and it likely will not be the last. The back and forth study of a coin is part of what makes this hobby so interesting. 

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