Longevity in Coin Series

August 21st, 2013
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The half eagle or $5 gold denomination was originally established in the United States under the Coinage Act of 1792. During the first several decades, the coins were produced in fits and starts, changing designs frequently. A change in gold content would stabilize the issuance and lead to higher mintages and better circulation. This set the stage for the so-called Liberty Head design, which would run uninterrupted for an impressive span of years from 1839 to 1908 before finally being replaced.

The design was based on earlier designs, but reworked by Christian Gobrecht. The obverse featured the head of the allegorical Lady Liberty with hair beneath a crown and surrounded by stars. The reverse design mirrored earlier attempts with a bald eagle containing shield, arrows, and olive branch. With only a few slight modifications, this design would be the face of the denomination for nearly eighty years.

As might be imagined, the lengthy series was struck at multiple mint facilities, in total numbering seven. All together there were more than 200 different date and mint mark combinations, making for an almost unfathomable set. A number of extremely low mintage rarities are also included. In some cases, the total mintage levels number in the low hundreds of pieces, making for some exceptionally difficult acquisitions for even the most well-heeled collector.

Certainly, this series represents a new mark in longevity for a coin series. In modern times with multiple designs released within the same year for a single denomination, such stability is refreshing and intriguing.

Coin Series

Year to Date Production for Roosevelt Dimes

March 9th, 2013
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It is currently profitable for the United States Mint to produce the dime. The denomination is struck from a composition of 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel with a weight of only 2.27 grams. This small size means that the cost of raw materials and overhead from production are outweighed by the face value. The dime currently represents the smallest circulating denomination that is produced with positive seigniorage, as both the cent and nickel cost more to produce than their respective face values.

The Roosevelt Dime is currently struck for circulation at the facilities located in Philadelphia and Denver. The number of coins struck for the year to date is steadily ahead of the year ago levels. In January production was 102.5 million at Denver and 122 million at Philadelphia. The following month in February production was 83 million and 89.5 million for the respective facilities. High production was seen only for the cent, with other denomination struck in smaller numbers.

Designs for the dime have remained unchanged since introduced in 1946. The head of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt appears on the obverse. The reverse contains the image of a lit torch which is flanked by an oak branch and olive leaf. Collectors pay particular attention to the detail present in the central torch. Both sides of the coin are designed by John R. Sinnock.

Production

The Most Famous Key Date

February 26th, 2013
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A key date coin is simply one of the coins from a particular series which is the most difficult to obtain. This may be the result of an originally low mintage, or the result of a low survival rate which may be the case due to heavy melting or attrition through circulation. Collectors who pursue a complete collection will often work their way through the more common issues of the series and be left looking for one or more key dates. These are usually the most expensive or require the greatest amount of searching.

Ask most people about a rare coin and they will usually mention the 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent. Generations of collectors have sought and coveted this coin as the key to a complete set of pennies. The reason for the rarity is the low original mintage of 484,000 pieces. These were struck at the San Francisco Mint in the launch of the new design for the series. Following some public attention, the very prominent initials “V.D.B.” on the reverse were removed. Coins without these initials were struck in larger quantities.

Around the time of issue, many people saved examples of the coin due to its high profile nature and well known story about removing initials. This meant that a relatively high number of examples have survived. Despite this, a great deal of demand keeps the premium for the coin high.

Collectors will seek the coin in grades from well circulated to gem, and will be willing to pay a handsome premium to add this famous key date to their collection!

Coin Rarities

Production Gaps and Changes for the Annual Proof Set

February 12th, 2013
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Since 1936, coin collectors have been attracted to United States Mint Proof Sets. One set includes a sample of each coin minted in a year struck in high quality proof format. This represented an ideal way to build a collection that shows the evolution and variety of coin designs over the years. During the span of offering, these annual collector sets have experienced several changes or breaks.

For the years from 1936 to 1942, each set for a year included the design of the half dollar, quarter, dime, nickel and the cent. During World War II, in the year 1942, the nickel was struck both in the standard composition or in 35% silver. This created a six coin set possibility for collectors seeking completion.

No sets of proofs were struck from 1942 – 1949, with production finally resuming in 1950. The gap was due to the second World War and also the workload for the US Mint to produce medals related to the conclusion of the war.

A somewhat unusual gap occurred from the years 1965 to 1967. This followed the change in composition from 90% silver to clad for the dime and quarter, and the reduction in silver content for the half dollar. Due to a shortage of circulating coins, the US Mint did not strike proofs, but offered special mint sets in their place.

A dollar coin was included in the sets from 1973 – 1981. The dollar coins started with the Eisenhower dollar, and it continued until 1979, when it was replaced by the Susan B. Anthony dollar. Interestingly, the Susan B. Anthony dollar was included for 1981, although it was not minted that year for the general public.

In 1999, when the 50 State Quarters program was introduced, all five quarters struck during a year were included with the proofs for that year. Sets for 2004 and 2005 included two Lewis and Clark nickels. In addition, the 2007 sets included the four Presidential dollars. In 2009, the Lincoln cent completed the largest proof set with four different reverses, commemorating Lincoln’s 200th birthday and making it the largest set of 18 coins.

Annual Sets

Why Seated Liberty Half Dollars Are So Valuable To Collectors

January 18th, 2013
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The US mint produced twenty-cent pieces, silver dollars, dimes and quarters with the Liberty design from 1836 to 1891. The iconic design was also used for the important half dollar or fifty cent denomination for more than half a century. With a very large number of different issues by date and mint mark, collecting the series as a whole can be a daunting task, open only to the most dedicated collectors.

Even if not pursuing a complete collection, the series does make for an interesting study, since it was produced across a number of different mint facilities and with slight alterations in design over the years. Collectors can identify these Seated Liberty Half Dollars because the image depicts Liberty sitting on a rock with a shield in her hands and a cap on the pole. The image appears on more United States silver coins than any other design used in the history of American coin making.

Although Liberty has appeared on many coins since the first issuance in 1792, this particular rendition proved to be the most long lived. Thomas Sully, an American artist, created the original image in his painting of Liberty that included thirteen stars to represent the original thirteen colonies.

Many coin images have been altered during the course of their use and the Liberty design is no different. Variations include coins depicting the goddess with a blank face, with rays or arrows incorporated to denote a change in composition or weight, with drapery added at the elbow, and with a motto added on a scroll on the reverse of the coin. Even the half dollar went through multiple versions during the extended course of the series.

Coin Series