US Coins

Carson City Mint exhibit matches coin to discarded die

A numismatic exhibit on Seated Liberty 20-cent coins being displayed at the Nevada State Museum in Carson City for at least the next year includes an 1875-CC issue struck from one of four dies later excavated, circa 1999 to 2000, from property next to the former Carson City Mint.

The resurrected coin die and a matching coin that it struck when it was in use at the Mint are part of an exhibit championed by Massachusetts collector John Frost, co-author with Lane Brunner of Double Dimes — The United States Twenty-Cent Piece.

The exhibit was presented to the public for the first time on Aug. 21, the first day of the two-day Carson City Mint Coin Show and Education Fair.

Frost said: “Over the past months, I have been working with the History, Exhibits, and Education curators and directors to put together a new exhibit for the Nevada State Museum, featuring their die, and my coin struck by that very same die. We worked together on exhibit content, photos, and signage and on Friday Aug. 21, we installed the exhibit, entitled ‘A Perfect Match’ in the Mint building. It was an instant hit, with museum visitors looking at the exhibit, the enlarged photos, and description, and saying things like ‘Neat!’ and ‘Cool!’ — many taking photos of their own.”

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What is identified as the BF-1 variety of the 1875-CC Seated Liberty 20-cent coin as attributed in the Brunner and Frost reference was first discovered by Liberty Seated Collectors Club member Mark Obstalecki, according to Frost. While continuing to conduct research for the book, Frost said, he was able to locate two more examples of the new die marriage, one of which is the coin in the new museum exhibit.

Currently, 12 examples are known of the BF-1 variety, according to Frost.

During the summer of 2013, Frost visited the museum where he was able to photograph the four excavated 20-cent coin dies. As Frost was continuing his book research and examining the photographs of the rusty and corroded dies, he was able to determine the BF-1 1875-CC Seated Liberty 20-cent coin was struck from one of those discarded dies.

Frost said the discovery is the first time that a specific coin variety could be positively matched to a specific die for the 20-cent series.

Also exhibited during the two-day coin show and education fair was a complete set of all 28 known die marriages of Seated Liberty 20-cent coins. Frost said the assemblage represented the first time that all the known varieties were exhibited in the facility that originally produced them.

Of the coins displayed, 27 are from Frost’s own collection. The elusive 1876-CC coin, of which fewer than 20 examples are known, was loaned for the exhibit by the anonymous owner of the E.A. Carson specimen, one of the few circulated examples.

The anonymous owner was able to have the 1876-CC coin brought to the museum for the exhibit Aug. 21 and 22 by Allen Rowe from Northern Nevada Coin.

The E.A. Carson 1876-CC Seated Liberty 20-cent coin is certified and encapsulated by Professional Coin Grading Service as Genuine, Extremely Fine Details, Scratch.

The 1876-CC coin was only on loan for the two-day coin show and education fair.

The remaining 27 varieties known that are in Frost’s collection are part of a traveling exhibit that he carries to shows he attends where the Liberty Seated Collectors Club maintains a bourse table.

The traveling collection that was exhibited at the former Carson City Mint (now the state museum) Aug. 21 and 22 includes one of Frost’s two 1875-CC BF-1 varieties.

The second example of the variety will remain on display at the Nevada State Museum along with the original die that produced it in the “A Perfect Match” exhibit.

Frost is one of the more than 650 LSCC members and serves as the club’s educational program director.

The Liberty Seated Collectors Club can be found online at

Short-lived series

The Seated Liberty 20-cent coin holds the record for the shortest-lived denomination in U.S. coinage history. It was struck for just four years — 1875, 1876, 1877, and 1878 — with production limited to Proof-only coins during the last two years. It was struck at three Mint facilities — Philadelphia, Carson City, and San Francisco

A set of circulation strikes totals just five pieces, one from each Mint facility in 1875 and Philadelphia Mint and Carson City Mint strikes from 1876. Four of those coins are priced at less than $1,000 each in mid-range circulated grades, making them priced well within many collectors’ budgets. However, the extremely rare 1876-CC Seated Liberty 20-cent coin, with prices typically in six figures, makes completing the circulation strike set a difficult task for most. 

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