US Coins

Confederate half dime third reverse die identified

A third reverse die has been identified for what is sometimes called the 1861 Confederate “half dime.” The pieces are actually tokens.

Jon Sullivan from Sullivan Numismatics in Charleston, South Carolina, recently purchased the piece from collector Bradford Haynes, a Murfreesboro, Tennessee, hobbyist who had uncovered another holed example while metal detecting locally. That other example was struck from the second known reverse die.

1808-quarter-eagle-1793-chain-cent-leadThe September 2017 cover feature explores “one-year wonders,” designs that lasted just a year or less, many of which are now coveted delicacies. Other topics include how to value unique collectibles, and an outline of the history of what "paper money" is printed on, from mulberry bark to plastics.

Examples of the tokens, struck in silver in Murfreesboro by A.O. Sehorn and circulated, are known holed and unholed, and with a plain edge or reeded edge.

The example Sullivan recently purchased is holed and has faintly reeded edges.

The token obverses feature a flag with 13 stars in one corner, with A UNITED SOUTH and the date 1861 around. The reverses depicts a branch of cotton, with 13 five-pointed stars around.

The new discovery, which Sullivan purchased from Haynes along with a group of pre-Civil War U.S. coins, has the cotton branch in a slightly different position than the other two known reverse dies. Sullivan said the piece was the Haynes family for many years. It is now attributed as B861-116B (Confederate Numismatica, Part 1, by Peter Bertram).

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The existence of the pieces, Walter Breen wrote in Walter Breen’s Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins, was first reported by P. Sid Jones (of the Millburn Wagon Company in Memphis), who received an example on Oct. 9, 1862, the day after the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky, according to the April 1878 issue of Coin Collectors Journal.

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