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I assume if you’re a part time or a professional Numismatist that you wonder what information could be useless concerning your hobby. Well, we have found some, and some might disagree and some might get upset, but this is our pick of the most useless information in Numismatics.
Population Reports: Population reports are published by the third party coin grading services telling us how many coins, of a each type, date, mint and denomination where graded and certified for each grade and in their respective holder. In example, let’s say PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service) graded and slabbed 1,000 Morgan Silver Dollars, dated 1881-S, with the grade of MS66. So the population report would be 1,000 for this coin type, date, mint and grade.
Imagine this for all coins types and for every grade and you have an example of a population report. Although not totally useless the problem with these reports is called “resubmission” of a coins already graded and counted in the population reports. The population report or grading service doesn’t have the ability to track all resubmissions of all coins that are “cracked” out of their holders and sent back in. So just how useful is a inaccurate population report when it doesn’t report the same coins being resubmitted more than one time? Sometimes a coin is cracked out and resubmitted several times to get the grade worth the most value.
Grades On Holders: You find this a lot at ebay where sellers will place a coin in a holder and put a grade on the coin. I am sure you have also seen coins in 2×2 holders with grades, values and all manner of hype. It’s all an attempt to make collectors think the coin is worth more money, and is most certainly useless information. Ignore the holders and the seller’s writing and buy the coin for it’s true appearance you can see. Some of these sellers were left these coins by a family member and they believe what was written on the holder is accurate, but such is not always the case. So it’s mostly useless information.
Coin Mintage Figures: I can’t say coin mintage figures are not important. But they’re, for the most part, useless. The further back in coin minting history you go the less accurate their mintages. You’re seeing this change as more and more expert sources are now using “survival” estimates of how many might have survived of a certain coin, date, mint and denomination. The mintages are what’s reported or recorded by the U.S. Mint, and not how many coins exist today, so you can’t gauge the value of a coin on a mintage figure alone. It’s all about how many survived until the present and how many are available in each grade.
Over the history of a coin types existence they can be lost, damaged or worn beyond identification and the longer they were in circulation the better the chance they’re being reduced in numbers. Furthermore there’s many examples of certain dates and mints that where used in circulation more and finding a mint state example is difficult despite the fact that the coin might have a higher than the key dates of the series mintage figure.
Coin Grading Without Images: This one has changed but there’s still plenty of websites telling you how to grade coins but don’t have images. Most people don’t know what AU50 or VF35 is let alone what parts of the design should have wear or shouldn’t. So don’t even give it a chance since coin grading without images or without a coins in hand is useless information.
What They Said: Yes, that’s correct, “They said” and you hear this for about any subject and it’s no different in coin collecting. “They said it was rare.”, “They said it was authentic.”, “They said it was pure gold”, or “They said it was valuable.”, etcetera, etcetera. Who’s “they“, wait, don’t bother telling me because who they is as useless as telling us what they said.
Origin Of Coins / Lots: I have witnessed before when a well meaning and honest friend brings me some coins and claims they were left to him when his grandpa died. “They have to be old and valuable because grandpa was 90 years old or so”, they would claim. I am always polite and sorry for their loss of a loved one, but family historical facts don’t mean the coins are valuable. I hope they are, for their sake, but most generally they’re not.
You can see a lot of sellers using similar lines in their estate lots, mystery boxes and hidden compartment stories but this information is useless and does not mean the coins are more rare and valuable. It’s wishful and flawed logic. It’s almost always a ploy to spark your interest in the coins.
A Coin’s Age: It doesn’t matter how old a coin is what matters is how rare the coin is. Rarity is when the coin gains a valuable status along with how popular the coin is to collectors. Sure there’s some very valuable coins that are 100 years old but there’s also less valuable coins that are 2,0000 years old. It’s just useless information to tell another person how old a coin is to hint at a high value for the coin.
No CAC Sticker: CAC (Certified Acceptance Corporation) grades coins already graded by top tier, third party grading service and if CAC agrees with the coin grade or thinks the coin should be graded higher, they place their CAC sticker on the coin. So what does CAC do with coins they think are over-graded? Nothing. CAC doesn’t mark coin holders with coin graded less than they agree with.
The question for this is “Why?” and just how many coins didn’t make the CAC grade? We will never know and that’s some information collectors need to know so this becomes a sin of omission. If a service is supposed to give us a little more confidence in a third party grading service’s grades then they should most certainly label coins they feel don’t meet the grade. So CAC makes them selves a bit useless and self serving, and afraid to upset the status quo. Now that’s useless since the unmarked coins coming out of CAC are being sold as the grade on the label even though CAC doesn’t agree with the grade.
Mint Error Coins At Ebay: It’s a sad fact but many people selling coins with what they claim is a mint error or a rare error are incorrect in their descriptions. Not all of them, but enough of them have useless and inaccurate information in their auction descriptions. These sellers want to make some money on coins they believe are rare and valuable, but some of them are not even mint errors and most of them are common mint errors.
So their descriptions are useless and buyers should do some research before buying mint errors at ebay. As a matter of fact, post your auction on our forum and we will tell you all you need to know about the coin and if it’s worth buying. CoinHELP! Coin Forum
Feel free to ask any questions you have about coins on our forum, we’re glad to help! And if you don’t agree with this list then post a comment. We would like to hear from you.
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Confederate States Of America Half Dollar
When the Confederate Army captured the U.S. Mint in New Orleans it was rename Confederate States Mint. They commenced striking their own half dollars with their own obverse and used the obverse of the then current U.S. 1861 Seated half dollar as the reverse design.
However silver prices were rising and the coinage for the Confederacy failed, do to lack of silver for planchets, so they only struck four originals. These four original CSA half dollars are extremely valuable and sell for upward of $632, 500.
It’s considered the Confederate half dollar that never was since no other original strikes are known, other than the four. It was Christopher Memminger’s, Confederate treasurer secretary, idea to mint Confederate coinage but with the rising silver cost, and after striking the four originals, he decided it was useless to continue on his idea of Confederate coinage.
*Image is of a Scott restrike 1879.
Confederate States Of America One Cent
Robert Lovett Jr. a die designer and die sinker, of Philadelphia, was approached by Confederate States agents to design a coinage for CSA (Confederate States Of America). He designed the One Cent with a “French Head” and struck 12 original pieces. However the Civil War commenced and he distanced himself from the Confederacy for fear of being charged with treason.
*Image is of a Haseltine copper restrike 1874.
After the war John W. Hasteltine bought the dies from Lovett and in 1874 struck a reported 55 pieces in copper and some in gold and silver, but none in copper/nickel. Lovett struck his originals in copper/nickel, and Hasteltine didn’t use this alloy, so as not to be confused with the original 12 “Confederate” One Cents.
*Image is of a Haseltine silver restrike 1874.
J.W. Scott Restrikes
J.W. Scott came up with an idea to restrike Confederate Half Dollars and bought the original obverse die from Ebenezer Locke Mason Jr., then purchased 500 circulated U.S. 1861-O Seated Half Dollars. He ground down the reverse of each half dollar then struck it with the Confederate obverse.
This method of production caused a flattening and distortion of the Seated design and are identified by this factor. Furthermore the Confederate obverse is used to grade the coin since the reverse is so altered. Almost all examples display a poor reverse with only a few choice examples are known with little distortion and bring a higher premium.
J.W. Scott’s Token
J.W. Scott also produced another 500 tokens with the Confederate die obverse but with the reverse describing the striking of the original four C.S.A. half dollars. The “Scott” medal was struck in white metal and was sold to collectors for fifty cents each, but now sell for several thousands of dollars in mint state and when certified by a reputable third party grading service like NGC (Numismatic Guarantee Corporation) or PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service).
Robert Bashlow and David Laties bought the Confederate one cent dies from John Ford and struck the coins using the defaced dies in 1962. The evidence on the coins of the dies being defaced is a hallmark for Blashlow restrikes. The coins were minted in copper, gold, nickel/silver, aluminum, red fiber, lead, platinum, tin, zinc with gold being the rarest at only three pieces struck, but less than fifty of the other metals.
Here’s another Bashlow restrike, half doll, “Confederate” token struck in 1962 and on the reverse a list of how many were struck in each metal or alloy. It’s been noted that the mintages on the back of this coin are not accurate, and the numbers struck are less than listed. The coins were struck for Bashlow by the August Frank, Co. of Philadelphia, PA.
There’s a lot of controversy about the various C.S.A. restrikes and most of the controversy surrounds how many were minted. So the above article is subject to change if more factual evidence presents itself. Also, the facts surrounding the capture, by Confederate forces, of the New Orleans mint and the facts about the striking of the four Confederate half dollars is under debate and questioned. So do your research and don’t take any one source as the gospel on Confederate coins and restrikes.
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Franklin Half Dollars
While Franklin half dollars were only minted for a period of 16 years, making them one of the shortest minted coin types, they still have an intriguing history. Therefore, it would behoove you to become familiar with their history and the rare mintages, which contribute to the value, before you sell Franklin half dollars. One thing you don’t want to make the mistake of doing is using Franklin half dollars for legal tender at face value, since they are worth far more than a half dollar both to coin collectors and as silver.
Nellie Tayloe Ross, U.S. Mint Director, was a long-time admirer of Benjamin Franklin and wanted him to be depicted on a coin. She instructed John R. Sinnock, the Mint’s chief engraver, to prepare Franklin half dollar designs in 1947. It’s believed that a 1933 medal Sinnock designed with Franklin’s image on it may have given Ross the idea.
Sinnock worked on the designs, basing them on his earlier depictions, but before they were completed, he died. Gilroy Roberts, Sinnock’s successor, completed the work.
The obverse of Franklin silver half dollars features Benjamin Franklin’s head in profile to his shoulders; he is dressed in a period suit. This marked the first time a U.S. coin produced for circulation depicted a non-president American.
The reverse of the coin depicts the Liberty Bell, complete with a crack. Sinnock’s design for the reverse was based on the 1926 commemorative half dollar which was produced for the 150th anniversary or sesquicentennial of American Independence. As an afterthought, a small bald eagle was added to the reverse, in order to remain compliant with the Coinage Act of 1873, which required an eagle to be depicted on all coins valued greater than a dime.
The Franklin silver half dollars were minted from 1948 to 1963, are 90% silver, and have a reeded edge. The 50-cent pieces were struck at mints in Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Denver. The coin was replaced in 1964 by the Kennedy half dollar, coinage that was issued to honor President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated.
Franklin half dollars were subjected to several criticisms, including:
- The Commission of Fine Arts believed that showing a crack in the Liberty Bell would subject the coinage and the U.S. to ridicule and make the coins the butt of jokes, and they hesitated to approve the design.
- The Commission also disapproved of the eagle, which they felt was small to the point of being insignificant.
- Sinnock’s initials, “JRS,” are shown at the cutoff of Franklin’s right shoulder, and the Mint received accusations that the initials were a tribute to Joseph Stalin, a Soviet dictator. The Mint did not change the coinage; however, they responded to the accusation by simply pointing out that the letters are the designer’s initials.
- In a 1948 interview, Ross was compelled to defend her choice to depict Franklin on a coin when it was pointed out that Franklin was actually an advocate of putting proverbs on coins which could cause the holder to profit from reflection. In addition, a numismatic writer, Jonathan Tepper, pointed out that Franklin was known to have detested the eagle and might have been upset about being on a coin with the eagle on the reverse. Franklin was a strong proponent of choosing the wild turkey as the U.S. national bird.
Some information about the minting of Franklin silver half dollars:
- In the first few years, relatively small numbers of the coin were struck; this was due to a limited demand caused by an overabundance of Walking Liberty half dollars.
- In 1955 and 1956, no half dollars were struck at the Denver mint.
- The San Francisco Mint closed in 1955 and reopened in 1965.
- Starting in 1962, Franklin half dollars were struck in much greater numbers than in previous years.
- Proofs included, approximately 498 million Franklin silver half dollars were struck.
- The coinage makes for a somewhat inexpensive collection, since there are only 35 different mintmarks and dates in the series.
- A 1955 “Bugs Bunny” half shows a marking on the outside of Franklin’s mouth which some say resembles buck teeth. A die clash between an obverse and reverse die caused this variety.
- Beginning in the late 1950s, the quality of half dollars declined due to deterioration of the master die from which working dies were made for U.S. coinage.
Though none are truly rare, semi-key dates for the Franklin silver half dollars are 1948, 1949-S, 1953 and 1955. Because the coinage has been extensively melted for their silver, a lot of the dates are rarer than mintage figures might indicate. An example is that over 9 million 1962 Franklin half dollars were struck for circulation along with 3 million in proof; but the coin, in any condition, was more valuable in bullion because silver prices reached record levels in 1980. In MS-65 condition, the 1962 half dollar is second only to the 1953-S in value.
It has been noted by numismatists that well-struck Franklin half dollars which display clear, full horizontal bell lines (FBLs) on the Liberty Bell are very rare, particularly for certain mintages. Collectors are willing to pay well for exceptional specimens of FBLs, especially for 1953-S and 1963.
To get the best price when you sell Franklin half dollars, become familiar with the intricacies that indicate the true condition and value of the individual pieces. Selling to a reputable coin collector is usually the surest way to get the best price for a treasured coin.
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Like many collectors you might have made the mistake of buying a supposedly brilliant or mint state Morgan Silver Dollar but found out later that it was actually AU58. I think most coin collectors have had this experience at least once in their collecting lives, and if you haven’t, then maybe it’s time to take a second look at your raw coins.
You might be surprised at what you discover and CoinHELP! now has a guide to help you grade AU58 and MS60 Morgan Dollars and a guide that will help prevent buying AU coins when you’re in the market for mint state examples.
This article provides helpful and in-depth commentary on these grades with high resolution images for better examination of each high point to check for signs of wear and circulation.
To read this article and be better informed in buying Morgan Dollars and grading the transitional grades from AU58-MS60 then click here Morgan Dollars AU58 To MS60 Grading
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