US Coins

Inside Coin World: 1904 Louisiana Purchase Expo medal

Columnist Thomas Cohn purchased this U.S. bronze medal struck for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Expo during a visit to his local coin shop.

Original images by Thomas Cohn

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Coin Shop Lottery: $25 for a 1904 bronze medal

Thomas Cohn’s quest to purchase interesting numismatic items at his local coin shop for $25 or less resulted in his acquisition of a bronze medal struck by the U.S. Mint for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Expo in St. Louis. “On a recent trip to the coin shop, I came across a medal that I had never seen before,” he writes. It bore a price tag of $42 in the dealer’s inventory, but as Thomas added, “This particular medal had been sitting in his case for six years, and for $25 it could be mine — sold.”

Thomas learned that the piece is a so-called dollar, a series of medals (not coins despite the “dollar” reference) that are approximately the size of a silver dollar, often issued for world’s fairs and expositions. This particular piece was issued at the expo held during the centennial celebration of the Louisiana Purchase.

Thomas researched the medal and exposition, concluding, “My $25 Louisiana purchase was a great opportunity to research the fascinating history of another Thomas’ Louisiana Purchase, although his was beyond my budget.” Find his column in the print and digital editions of the June 24 issue of Coin World.

Coin Values Spotlight: A very affordable overdate

In my “Coin Values Spotlight” column in the June 24 issue, I examine the most affordable “wartime” 20th century overdate — the 1943/2-P Jefferson 5-cent coin. All three U.S. Mint facilities in operation during World Wars I and II struck overdate varieties, including the 1918/7-D Indian Head 5-cent coin and 1942/1 Winged Liberty Head dime. Most are scarce and expensively in all conditions, especially in higher grades. 

The 1943/2-P Jefferson 5-cent coin is as interesting as the other overdates but is much more affordable. Examples can be found for less than $100 in grades up to Extremely Fine 40, and even in About Uncirculated and Mint State grades, they are priced well below the other overdates of the two wars.

The coin also has an interesting history. It was discovered in 1947, made appearances in several auctions in the early to mid-1970s, but was not formally recognized as a variety until late 1977. To learn more, see my column in the print and digital editions of Coin World.

Collecting Paper: Freemasonry and paper money

In his “Collecting Paper” column, Wendall Wolka looks at the connections (real or otherwise) between Freemasonry and paper money in the United States. He focuses on two notes issued during the Civil War, one in the North and the other in the South.

The two notes have connections to famous events during the war, when forces on one side raided communities under the control of the other side. In one case, a shared connection to the Masons between opponents led to an unexpected result. The other note, from a merchant in another raided community, sports distinct Freemasonry symbols.

Read Wendell’s column in the June 24 Coin World.

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