US Coins

Inside Coin World: Looks like a cent but isn't

This looks like an 1863 Indian Head cent, doesn’t it? But look closer at the designer, and particularly at the added word just above the denomination on the reverse.

Original images courtesy of Whitman Publishing LLC.

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Tokens to Collect: They look like cents but aren’t

As the Civil War progressed and it became clear that the conflict would not end quickly, fearful individuals in the North hoarded all federal coinage, forcing the government to issue new paper money and private merchants to issue tokens to serve as emergency money. As I write in my “Tokens to Collect” column in the Jan. 28 issue of Coin World, some tokens purposely resembled the contemporary Indian Head cents that had disappeared from circulation, but with a major difference.

The engravers at the private mints that struck the tokens added the word “NOT” above the denomination “ONE CENT.” The changes may have been made out of fear of being charged with counterfeiting, and make these tokens interesting additions to collections of the real Indian Head cents and Civil War tokens.

To learn a little more about these near cents, read the column, found only in the print and digital editions of Coin World.

Coin Values Spotlight: 1834 Classic Head half eagles

In 1834, the government adjusted the official price of gold, which made the metallic content of the existing gold coins worth more than the coins’ face value. Congress approved a change in specifications, and Mint officials took advantage of the changes to introduce new designs, including what collectors call the Classic Head design.

As Paul Gilkes writes in “Coin Values Spotlight,” after production of some $5 coins of the old design, 1834 Classic Head half eagles went into production. Collectors have since identified two distinct date styles on those first year gold $5 coins of the new design, with one version much more expensive than the other.

To learn more about the history behind the changes and why one version of 1834 Classic Head half eagle is more expensive than the other, read Paul’s article in the Jan. 28 issue of Coin World.

Readers Ask: Copper spots on gold coins

In his response to a reader’s question, Steve Roach addresses the effect of copper spots on gold coins and how they occur, in the “Readers Ask” column in the Jan. 28 issue.

The spotting, he writes, results from the toning that can occur to the small amount of copper in the mostly gold alloy of most U.S. gold coins. Some coins are more affected by the spots than others, Steve writes.

To learn more about the unsightly spots and why another reader with a potentially rare Seated Liberty quarter dollar should seek a professional opinion, read the column in the current issue of Coin World.

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