Special And Unique Seated Liberty Dimes

June 16th, 2014  |  Published in Coin Series

Some coin collectors like to focus on and specialize in one particular set of coins. Dimes are becoming increasingly popular among specialist collectors, and many of them begin their collections by hunting down Seated Liberty dimes. This obverse design was used on a number of different U.S. coins over the years, and it was the longest-running design for any silver coin minted in the United States. This dime was in circulation for 55 years, making it one of the most enduring dimes in the history of U.S. coinage, but the design was actually tweaked a number of times during its run of over a half-century.

When this dime was introduced in 1837, it included no stars on the obverse. The following year, 13 stars were added, then replaced with the “United States of America” legend. A number of other changes occurred to the Seated Liberty dime during its existence, but none of the changes were as important as the decision to make the coins more massive by adding extra weight. This was done in an attempt to compete with other world currencies, and it resulted in the rare Carson City dimes of 1873 and 1874.

Dime specialists love dimes depicting a sitting Liberty figure because of the many variations available. A collector could spend a significant amount of time searching for the various types of this special coin. Those who have been able to locate all of the variations of this dime can count themselves as members of a unique coin-collecting class.

The Final Half Cents

November 1st, 2013  |  Published in Coin Series

half-centAlthough it may seem odd at present times, the smallest denomination within the United States used to be the half cent. With the early days of the country such a denomination was necessary and everyday transactions were often conducted in the large copper composition half cents and cents. Both denominations had been authorized under the Coinage Act of 1792, with the denominations struck for the first time in the following year.

There were five basic types for the half cent with the designs roughly similar to their larger copper brothers. The Liberty Cap design facing left  was struck for just a single year in 1793 before the design was modified and the portrait faced left from 1794 to 1797. After a gap in production, the Draped Bust design was introduced and struck from 1800 to 1808, when mintage levels for the first time stretched above the one million mark.

The next design termed classic head began to see the decline in the denomination. After a first year mintage of one million, production levels declined as the small sized coins began to fall out of favor within circulation. The series concluded with small minages and a proof only issue.

The final series was known as the Draped Bust Half Cent and after the introduction of the design in 1840, the coins were not actually struck for circulation until 1849. For the first near decade, the coins were struck in proof format only in very limited quantities. Mintage levels for circulation remained modest and the series drew to a close in 1857. At this time, the large cent was replaced by the small cent and the half cent was officially discontinued.

Meltings Impact Rarity

August 20th, 2013  |  Published in Coin Series

It was a fairly consistent problem within early United States coinage that the market value of the metals would exceed the face value. The precious metal content for each denomination had been established under the Coinage Act of 1792 and no allowances were made for fluctuations in the price of the metals which frequently resulted from shifts in supply and demand. When the value of the metals exceeded the face value by a sufficient margin, coins were melted so that the metals could be reclaimed at a profit.

While the situation occurred across all denominations and across several series, one of the most pronounced occurrences was for the Capped Bust Half Eagle series, which ran from 1807 until 1834. This can be illustrated with two coins of the series. The first was issued with an extremely low mintage, while the second had a significantly higher mintage. As it turns out, the higher mintage coin is now incredibly more rare than the first.

The half eagles of 1815 had a mintage of merely 635 pieces. This amount may seem impossibly low for modern collectors, and it was also recognized as such by collectors of the 19th century. In modern times, there are elven identified survivors from the original mintage, making this a highly desired issue.

Later in 1822, the half eagles had a mintage of 17,796 pieces. Despite topping the mintage of the 1815 by nearly 30-fold, the vast majority of the coins were melted. This occurred overseas and even at the United States Mint, who would later re-coin the metal into the subsequent series with a lower gold content. This resulted in merely two survivors, setting up one of the most coveted rarities in American numismatics.

The Return of Unprecedented Demand

June 13th, 2013  |  Published in Coin Series

A rocky year for silver has only served to spur heavier demand for physical silver investment products. Chief among them is the perennial favorite American Silver Eagle bullion coins, which have been offered by the United States Mint each year since 1986. For the current year, sales indicate that a new annual sales record may be in the making.

Each coin is struck in 1 troy ounce of 99.9% fine silver and carries a nominal face value of one dollar. The weight, content, and purity of each coin is guaranteed by the US government, which makes them widely trusted and favored as a silver investment vehicle around the world. The obverse design features a stunning rendition of Liberty, which originally appeared on the circulating half dollars issued from 1916 to 1947. The reverse features a heraldic eagle which was designed by the former Chief Engraver John Mercanti.

The year for the iconic coins started with a bang. Opening day sales on January 17, notched a record high of 3,937,000 coins. The heavy orders continued, until the US Mint was forced to declare a temporary sell out. Sales would resume after a ten day break, under an allocation program which rationed supplies to the market.

Now at mid-year, sales are running more than 20% above the pace experienced in 2011, when the US Mint would sell an annual record of more than 40 million coins. Sales exceeding this amount would actually account for the entire annual domestic silver production.

In April, the market price of silver took a tumble, investors responded by order silver bullion products more heavily. It’s been said that experienced bullion buyers make their purchases when prices go down, and new buyers make their purchases when prices go up. Perhaps the only thing that can stop the unprecedented demand is stagnant prices. May silver investors live in interesting times.

Collecting The Seated Liberty Half Dime

April 18th, 2013  |  Published in Coin Series

The seated liberty half dime looms large within the history of United States coinage with 66 years in active production. For an early coin this is a daunting number of different issues to assemble for a collection. However, it’s rich history and challenge may win over some ardent collectors.

The denomination was a constant companion to pioneers of the old west, grizzled prospectors, and even Civil War soldiers. The string of different designs means that the coins changed hands during a multitude of situations and across a sweeping array of historical times. The half dime was actually the first denomination officially minted by the US government in 1792.  The seated liberty on the heads side of the half dime only appeared in 1836.

For a span of seven years between 1866 and 1873, there were two different official coins worth five cents: the silver half dime and the nickel. This period marked the transition for the denomination from precious metal to base metal in response to widespread hoarding during the Civil War years. The transition was completed in 1873, leaving only the Shield Nickel.

There are three variations in addition to the standard. These coins experienced limited runs, and include the flowing hair, the draped bust, and the capped bust half dime. Only the longer lived seated liberty version was minted in three locations: Philadelphia, San Francisco, and New Orleans.

Obviously, the best coins for collecting are rated into the Very Fine condition. These coins will include on the shield side, most of the word Liberty, as well as a clearly readable date and other legends. The image of Lady Liberty will retain some detail in the hair, drapery, and face. At this grade level, pieces may be affordable and also provide a great idea of the original design. Since these coins will have circulated, you never know how might have spent them during their long history!

What are Gold Krugerrands?

March 15th, 2013  |  Published in Coin Series

Gold Krugerrands are popular among gold buyers and coin collectors. This gold coin is minted exclusively by the Rand Refinery of South Africa to promote the gold trading market in the country. The term “Krugerrand” is a combination of the name of Paul Kruger, the former president of the Transvaal, and Rand, which is South Africa’s currency. During Kruger’s time, gold deposits were discovered in the area known as the Golden Arc. The Krugerrand was minted in order to turn the large deposits of precious metal into cash. In 1967, the first 1-ounce gold coin was made.

Krugerrands are considered unique in that while they are actually bullion coins, they were also considered legal tender and were used as currency. For this purpose, the coins were minted using an alloy made from gold and copper in order to make it durable and resistant against scratches and dents. Initially, Gold Krugerrands were considered illegal for residents of other countries to purchase in the 1970s and throughout the 1980s because of South Africa’s apartheid policy. After apartheid ended in 1994, the sanction against the coin was lifted.

Krugerrand Specifications

The Krugerrand is actually 22 karats, made from a gold-copper alloy (11 parts to 1, respectively), giving it a slightly reddish color. Its value if it is to be exchanged for cash is the value of the gold it contains. Its actual weight is 33.93g, which is equivalent to 1.09 troy ounces. About 31.10g of the coin is gold and 2.82g is copper. It is 2.84mm thick and 32.77mm in diameter.

In modern times, there have also been collectible versions of the coin struck. These are in proof quality and may be found across a variety of different precious metal weights.