US Coins

Inside Coin World: Lesher Referendum dollars

Features on Lesher Referendum dollars and “early-date” Indian Head cents, and tips on grading Indian Head 5-cent coins, are exclusive to the September monthly issue.

Images courtesy of Christopher Marchase.

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‘Free Silver’ advocate issues his own ‘coins’

Paul Gilkes writes in his cover feature for the September monthly issue of Coin World, “Joseph Lesher believed in the power of silver as money, and because of that belief he created a series of private silver issues to promote the politically charged idea of free coinage of silver.”

Lesher and other participating merchants issued his Referendum and other dollars as part of the Free Silver movement that swept the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Lesher faced various hurdles, including a request from the government to make certain changes in the designs to avoid counterfeiting charges.

Charter Oak Stoves tokenInside Coin World: New token column makes its debut A new regular column makes its first appearance in the Aug. 27 issue of Coin World, “Tokens to Collect,” and John Kraljevich Jr. visits Colonial era checks.


Paul’s feature is exclusive to the September monthly issue of Coin World, found in both print and digital editions.

Learn to grade circulated Indian Head 5-cent coins

Michael Fahey offers a course in grading circulating Indian Head 5-cent coins in his latest “First Grade” column. He writes, “Grading circulated Indian Head 5-cent coins is not difficult, but a number of variables complicate the process.”

The variables include the “nickel’s” composition of 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel, which is prone to corrosion and discoloration, as well as being hard to strike. 

“An additional concern is the bison’s horn,” he writes, explaining that this important focal point is key to identifying some grades, though grading standards have evolved over time.

Get Michael’s useful advice in the print and digital editions of Coin World.

How can there be an 1858 Indian Head cent?

In my feature, I examine “early-date” Indian Head cents. These are patterns bearing designs adopted in circulation, but on pieces dated a year before their actual introduction into circulation.

For example, one of the most popular patterns in the series is the 1858 Indian Head cent, dated a year before the coin entered circulation but bearing the designs of 1859.

Other patterns include an 1859 cent with the reverse introduced in 1860 and an 1863 pattern with the Designer’s Initial L design adopted in 1864.

Read more about these fascinating pattern pieces in the popular Indian Head cent series in the feature article exclusive to the September monthly issue.

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