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Rare Money Blog

By Q. David Bowers, Co-Founder

​It must have been a free-for-all among collectors on Long Island, New York in 1880, by which time the Capped Bust half dollars (minted 1807-1836) had long since disappeared from circulation. In fact, such pieces had not been generally seen since the early 1850s, when many if not most remaining pieces were melted down for bullion when the price of silver rose on international markets.​​

By Q. David Bowers, Co-Founder

​The Bank of New York, founded in 1784, came into possession of a keg of original 1787 Fugio copper cents sometime around the time they were manufactured. Over many years, beginning at least by 1859, bank officials passed these out to favored clients and employees and made some available to numismatists. Included were some of the scarce type with UNITED above and STATES below on the label across the reverse (in contrast, most other varieties have these words to the left and right sides).​

By Q. David Bowers, Co-Founder

​​This story begins in 1783, when a remarkable group of pattern coins was struck: the 5-unit piece, the "bit" of 100 units, the "quint" of 500 units, and the "mark" of 1000 units. Sylvester S. Crosby, in his landmark Early Coins of America book, commented, "These are undoubtedly the first patterns for coinage of the United States and command an interest exceeding that of any others in this class."​

By Q. David Bowers, Co-Founder

Many coins have significant value based on their fame. I am not quite sure you could call the 1804 silver dollar (the “King of American Coins”) popular, only 15 exist, and few people have the financial wherewithal to buy an example. Certainly, reading about this coin is a popular pursuit—more ink, including that in two books, is devoted to this particular variety than to any other single rarity in the U.S. series. However, the coin itself is not a popular item in the context of widespread acquisition. Most known examples show signs of wear, and accordingly, grade and scarcity alone do not determine its price. Its value rests on its fame.​

By Q. David Bowers, Co-Founder

Although no official state authorization relating to a native coinage is known, a number of issues were made with legends pertaining to New York. On February 11, 1787, John Bailey and Ephraim Brasher petitioned New York for the right to produce copper coins. On March 3, 1787, Capt. Thomas Machin did the same. Neither proposal was acted upon favorably. ​

By Q. David Bowers, Co-Founder

When the dies of a coin in a coining press were spaced slightly apart, the metal in the planchet didn’t fill the deepest recesses of the dies, and the resultant coins were lightly struck in areas, especially on the high points. Sometimes in a series, scattered varieties are usually weak, while others are sharp. Among the Morgan silver dollars, those made at the New Orleans Mint are often weak at the centers of the obverse and reverse, while most struck at San Francisco are sharp. Among Buffalo nickels, many Denver Mint coins of the 1920s are weak, and the 1926-D is sometimes so weak that many features are blurred and indistinct.​

By Q. David Bowers, Co-Founder

In 1969 Jim Ruddy purchased a small cache of Indian Head cents found in an attic of a mansion in Virginia. These had never been examined by a numismatist. Jim had been interested in die varieties for a long time, and over a span of years had discovered several remarkable items, one of which was a new die for the 1786 Date Under Plow Beam New Jersey copper, a classic in that series. ​

By Q. David Bowers, Co-Founder

There are many coins that are presently thought to be unique in numismatic hands (just one known to exist) or that were thought to be unique in the past. The 1817/4 Overdate half dollar is one such example. In The Numismatist, October 1930, editor Frank G. Duffield had this comment: “E.T. Wallis, of Los Angeles, Cal., writes that he has recently discovered a heretofore unknown variety of the 1817 half dollar, the last figure of the date being cut over a 4.​

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