Background on Franklin Half Dollars

June 16th, 2014 Comments off

In the years separating 1948 and 1963, the US minted a coin made of 9/10 silver. These coins were called Franklin Half Dollars. They were created with the intention of honoring Ben Franklin, one of the United State’s founding fathers. On the heads side you can see an image of Franklin, and the Liberty Bell is on the tails side.

There was some disagreement about the design on the coin. The designer, John R. Sinnock, had initials that matched those of Joseph Stalin, but these remained on the coin, even though he died halfway through the project. Gilroy Roberts took over for him and finished the design.

Many people did not like the Liberty Bell on the coin having the crack, although it was historically accurate. There was also a small bald eagle on the coin, which Franklin would have disagreed with, as he had lobbied for the turkey to be the national bird of the US.

Franklin did not believe people should be represented on currency, which is ironic, as he is also on the $100 bill. He did however have a firm belief in being frugal and saving money. It was hoped that by printing this coin, it would encourage people to save more.

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Introducing a New Version of an Old Favorite

March 11th, 2014 Comments off

The United States Mint introduced the American Silver Eagle in 1986 in order to provide average Americans with an easy method to invest in physical silver bullion. In addition to bullion coins sold for slight premium to their intrinsic value, a collector proof version was also offered at a premium price. The two offerings were extremely popular from the outset, with millions of bullion coins and hundreds of thousands of proof coins sold each year.


After twenty years of issue, the US Mint would introduce a new collector version of the coin. These were struck on specially burnished blanks with a finish resembling the bullion counterparts, however the “W” mint mark was present on the reverse. The US Mint has called the coin the collectible uncirculated version, but collectors commonly call them burnished Silver Eagles.

Similar to the collector proof versions, the new burnished coins were sold by the US Mint directly to the public as numismatic products. As such, the prices were generally fixed and represented a larger premium above intrinsic value than the bullion coins. Also, the coins were placed in plastic holders and storage boxes with a certificate of authenticity.

While sales for the coins have not reached the levels of the more popular annual proof, plenty of collectors have been following the new series. The typically lower sales levels are looked upon favorably by some collectors who feel that the comparative rarity of the coins offers a better value. There is certainly some potential for lower mintage issues to be considered scarce in the future.

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An Honor Well Deserved

February 18th, 2014 Comments off

The office of the American president is a very challenging one so it helps if the country’s No 1 citizen has a formidable wife to support him. One of the most remarkable women to hold this position was Louisa Adam who was the wife of John Quincy Adams. She has the distinction of being the only serving president’s wife to be born outside the US. She was also a prolific writer and wrote both drama and poetry. Louisa Adams was the first to write her memoirs. The book was entitled: Adventures of a Nobody.

Apart from being a writer, she was a bit of a musician too. She could sing, compose music, play the piano and play the harp as well. She was also multilingual and had lived in England, Russia and France before coming to the US. There is no doubt that she was a huge source of support to her husband during his years as American president.


This remarkable lady was honored with her own coin within the United States Mint’s First Spouse Gold Coin Program. One side has her image and her name. There is also the inscription: “In God We Trust” on the same side. The other side has the inscriptions: “United States of America” and “$10, 1/2 OZ., .9999 FineĀ  Gold”. The reverse design shows Mrs. Wilson along with her son as they make a journey across Europe to rejoin John Quincy Adams in Paris.

The coins originally went on sale May 29, 2008 and were offered in both proof and uncirculated versions. Sales were relatively limited at 11,677 pieces from the 40,000 maximum mintage.

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Early Quarters Experience Many Changes

January 23rd, 2014 Comments off

capped-bust-quarter copyIn contemporary America, the quarter dollar holds a place or prominence within every day commerce. It represents the largest coin denomination which sees general use and is seen as the workhorse of the economy. This was not always the case, as the denomination was somewhat neglected and much less frequently used within early America.

The quarter was authorized under the Coinage Act of 1792, along with other silver denominations which included the half dime, dime, half dollar, and silver dollar. Production for the quarter would not take place until 1796, after production had already started for the copper denominations and other silver coinage.

The initial series known as the Draped Bust, would be struck for a single year before a new reverse design was adopted. The low mintage for the 1796 quarter and its status as a one year type coin make this an important key date for collectors. With the adoption of the new reverse design, the series would produced for additional dates from 1804 to 1807.

After this time, there was a gap in production, after which the Capped Bust Quarters would be launched. These coins featured a new design inspired by Gilbert Stuart and executed by John Reich. For several years early in this series, mintages were extremely low creating some scarce coins. The numbers minted would not see a general increase until 1831 when new equipment and production methods were adopted. This paved the way for the large scale production of nearly 2 million pieces in 1835.

As time moved on, mintage levels would increase and the denomination would start to establish itself as an important piece within every day commerce. From humble beginnings, it would eventually find its place.

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Digging Into The Era Of Buffalo Nickels

October 29th, 2013 Comments off

Buffalo nickels were U.S coins made of nickel and copper, manufactured between 1913 and 1938. The coin had a face value of five cents and owed its design to a sculptor named James E. Fraser. The development of this coin came after an endeavor by United States officials to improve the aesthetic appearance of 5 of their coins between the year 1907 and 1909. Fraser’s design of the new coin was impressive in kind, having a Native American on its front side and an American bison on the back side.

As usual, the coins had to go through a process of approval, which was granted in 1913 amidst objections from a displeased Clarence Hobbs, the proprietor of Hobbs manufacturing company. As stated by Hobbs, his company manufactured a device used to accurately identify counterfeit nickel coins. Although the administrators had confirmed that the coin would not change in diameter or weight, which satisfied most manufacturers of coin-operated machines, Hobbs sought more clarification.

Although the U.S mint made efforts to modify its design, the buffalo nickels had a number of abnormalities ranging from quick wear to the tendency of the dates to easily wear away during distribution. This was a significant challenge, bearing in mind that 5 cent coins are among the coins with the highest rate of circulation. Coupled with these flaws, this coin was readily replaced by the Jefferson nickel upon the expiry of the 25- year period, during which the coin’s design could not be changed according to the regulations.

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