Cathy writes: Hi Doc, I have a 1864 Confederate States of America five-hundred dollar bill that is dated Feb 17th, 1864. It’s in fairly poor condition, but I was wondering what type of value this bill holds. It was found between the walls of an old house that was being demolished. Thanking you in advance for your time.
This is a scarce type. The note has red underprinting, a confederate seal with an equestrian statue of George Washington below the Confederate flag at left. General “Stonewall” Jackson is at lower right. Low grade but intact examples bring $100-$200.
Freddie B. writes: Dear Doc, I have a 1884 Carson City uncirculated silver dollar which I would like to know the value. It is in a rectangular plastic case which is in a black box with a medium blue lining. On the inside top of the box are the words “As we approach America’s Bicentennial, this historic silver dollar is one of the most valued reminders of our national heritage. RICHARD NIXON”
The paper inside the box has a blue # printed on the upper right corner which is “83276182”. The 3 paragraphs on the paper describe information about the historic coin, valuable memento, history, etc. At the very bottom of the paper is printed “United States Government 1972”.
Can you tell me what it’s worth might be or how I can find out? I am not familiar with grading and other words I’ve read about. I sure would appreciate any information you’d share with me. I really have learned a lot from your site. Thanks!
In the early 1960’s the U.S. government discovered huge quantities of uncirculated silver dollars in storage. Many bags of 1,000 were sold at face value. As the price of silver rose substantially over the face value of all silver coins, the sale of dollars was withdrawn. Many souces from collectors to dealers and the general public recommended various schemes in which to sell off the remaining government silver dollars.
On Dec 31, 1970 President Nixon signed the Bank Holding company Act which included a provision authorizing the General Services Administration to sell the silver dollars. In 1971 the Treasury turned over the remaining silver dollars to the General Services Administration. They were stored at the Bullion Depository at West Point, New York.
The GSA held five mail-bid sales of Carson City Mint dollars and two fixed price sales of general mixed dollars. They were encapsulated in hard plastic holders with a black background and packaged in a cardboard box as you described. Prices varied from $20 to about $85.
Of the Carson City dollars, a few lucky recipients received better date Carson City dollars but most received the more common 1883-CC and 1884-CC examples. The holders hold appeal to some collectors but the value of the coin depends on the actual grade and the reflectivity of the fields (very reflective fields are called proof-like or Deep Mirror). Approximate value range for uncirculated 1884-CC Morgan Dollars: $160 – $450. 1884-CC dollars that grade higher than MS65 bring much higher prices.
For information about grading, see the article U.S. Coin Grading.
Tony P. writes: I inherited a Washington Piece 1783 that is different than any other I have seen. It has the front from one style (Washington robed) and the back from another (full floor). It also has initials struck in it. It has no ridges around the perimeter. What is the story behind it, was it used as a sample design prior to the minting of the series? Any help would be great!
Your piece is part of the “Washington & Independence” series that was struck in about 1820. These tokens in this series have similar characteristics to the large cents that were struck in the United States from 1793 – 1857 and the British pennies that circulated in England until 1967.
Tokens with the portrait of Washington circulated here and in England and though they had no official status, were readily accepted as money. Washington was so revered that anything with his portrait was cherished. The piece from this series is called the “Draped Bust”. There are three varieties with this particular bust and several other varieties that were struck in 1851 and 1860.
Your piece is representative of the 1820 varieties. You can measure the diameter to check. Baker 2 = 28.3 mm (look for the signature “I” in the folds above “3” in the date, (I=Thomas Wells Ingram). Baker 2A is overstruck on a token of I. Walker, Flimby Park Colliery (probably not your piece) = 27 mm and Baker 2B (yours?)= 29 mm.
The obverse shows laureate and mantled bust of George Washington facing left, the date 1783 is below and WASHINGTON & INDEPENDENCE. The reverse shows a similar figure to “Britannia” on the reverse of English pennies but here it is Lady Liberty seated left, a olive branch in her right hand and a staff topped with a Phrygian cap in her left (symbol of freedom of thought); UNITED STATES is around. The token has a plain edge.
Values depend on rarity, variety and condition. Your coin would grade somewhat less with the graffiti (the initials) on it. Approximate value: Baker 2 – US $50 Baker 2B US $800 – $1,000. You can have your piece authenticated and attributed by one of the Grading Services. See the CoinSite Links Page for more information.
Karen H. writes: I have what appears to be a coin and am trying to find information on it. It is copper, about 2″, has George Washington on one side with the words “George Washington President of the United States” the date 1789. On the other side there is 2 hands shaking, a tomhawk and a pipe crossed above that with the words “peace and friendship”
The first use of the “Peace pipe and Tomahawk/clasped hands” design on an Indian Peace medal was under President John Adams in 1797. Pieces with George Washington and this design and the date 1789 were not struck at the U.S. Mint until after 1900. This medal is still available from the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia.
Question: I have two small children that I would like to give a gold coin each ($5, 10 or 20), not sure what to purchase. It will be a keepsake to pass down thru the family. Doesn’t need to be the finest but something I can take pride in. How do I go about purchasing the two coins?
United States gold coins can be divided into three broad categories:
The cost of U.S. gold coins can vary greatly but there are coins available for any budget. For example, a uncirculated 1908 St. Gaudens currently can be purchased for less than $1500 (contains .9675 ounces of gold) but a nice 1907 High Relief example can cost $25,000+.
You might want to consider the historical background of the coins and make that a consideration when you are ready to purchase. For example, Civil War era, early U.S. Finance period (1820s – 1840s), the era of William Jennings Bryan (“cross of gold” and such in the 1890’s), California gold rush (CAL gold and territorial pieces (1849-1857), etc. Include the historical perspective with your gifts
Any purchase that you make should either come with papers of authenticity from the American Numismatic Association or encapsulated by a third party grading service such as PCGS, NGC or ANACS. (You can see links to the above on the CoinSite Links page.
Most major cities have dealers that are members of the ANA and other numismatic associations. If there are none in your area, there are many reputable dealers on the Internet. Because of the reach of the Internet, probably the majority of coin purchases today are transacted thru the mail and to a lesser extent, at major coin shows. You also might want to get a copy of Coin World (The NY Times of Coins) to see lots of ads and articles about coins. See your local newsstand.
Jack W. asks: Is it worth holding on to the new gold dollar coins? If it is, are there certain ones I should be looking for, such as markings etc. Thank you.
The Sacagawea, Native American and Presidential dollars should be….spent. The numbers minted are vast. Collectors in the future will look to purchase gem condition examples. You won’t find ones in that lofty condition in the wild but you can buy Mint and proof sets from the U.S. Mint (see their link on the CoinSite Links page). For regular issues, those are the ones to save.
Some lucky people have found errors, including a rare mule error (with the obverse of a Washington quarter and a reverse of a Sacagawea dollar struck on a dollar blank). Those have turned out to be a financial boon to the finder.
Note that there is no gold in the “golden” dollars. It is an alloy of copper-nickel with a bit of manganese to temporarily give it a “gold” color. An unprotected coin soon oxidizes to a chocolate brown.
Katherine P. writes: I am wondering how many ridges the U.S. Quarter dollar, and the U.S. dime have?
Reeded edge coins have their origins in the days when coins were minted in precious metals. It was a way of preventing people from rubbing off or clipping some of the metal from the coin. A coin with a damaged edge was obvious and more likely to be rejected because of the missing metal. Reeding is imparted by the collar that holds the coin blank in place when it is struck by the coin dies. The number varies from time to time but I think there are about 160 reeds on either coin.
There are some coins that have reeding varieties. One example is the “infrequent reeded” 1921 Morgan Dollar, One variety of this coin with far less reeding than other dollars of this date. ‘Not the first coin on a variety collectors list but a good example nevertheless.
It is possible to count the reeds. Make a mark with a pen or pencil on the edge of the coin and count until you come back to the mark.
Frederick R. writes: I have a 1853-0 liberty seated half dollar with no arrows on the obverse and no rays on the reverse, that I am finding pretty hard to get the facts. Some tell me its worthless because its worn to much to be a MS60 anything. Others say that this particular coin is extremely rare and that New Orleans suposedly had some pretty lightly struck coins, and a pretty small production numbers for this version in this year. I’ve read that only four of these are officially known, last sale in 1979 for about $40,000.00 dollars. The unique fonted “3” in the date, and the way it is worn, would make this nearly impossible to have remade out of another coin. It is actually still able to be I.D.’d in that it is not worn completely flush. The obverse has all the Mrs. Liberty out lines clear, no device detail. All but one of the stars are clear, top half of date is clear, but the bottom half is hold to the light right. The reverse is actually ten times more appealing with strong device outlines but feathers are pretty much smoothed. What do I have here Doc?
Actually, the very coin in the Stacks sale in 1979 was sold privately in the 1990’s for $275,000. This is the famous no-arrows, no-rays, 1853-O half dollar. I think the coin was graded VF in the ’79 sale but was slabbed by PCGS, Fine. It doesn’t matter, it still is a major rarity and historic. I think Eliasberg had one, but it was the lowest grade of the 3 or maybe 4 that are supposed to exist (I think it was an AG) and there was one in Garrett that might have been a VF. That I believe is the highest grade known for this coin.
There are no mint records that show this coin being produced. Numismatists speculate that the no-arrows no- rays 1853 New Orleans half dollar might have been minted for presentation purposes and were spent later.
This is one of the rarest and most desirable coins in United States coinage. If you believe you have discovered another example, you will want to have the coin authenticated by ANA, PCGS or NGC. See their links on the CoinSite Links page .
Three different designs of gold dollars were issued by the United States. They are very small, only about 2/3rds the size of a dime. They were the smallest regular issue coins made by the United States. Type I, minted from 1849 through 1854, features a head of Liberty wearing a beaded coronet or crown surrounded by stars. […]
Phillip writes: I have a coin dated 1793. It is not a US coin. On one side of the coin are the words Crescunt Concordith Res Parvae. Pictured is a large crest with a horse with a sword in the center of the crest. On the top of the crest is a crown with 2 […]
Rocelle writes: Under what circumstances will a full proof red penny undergo discoloration in a matter of days? Such a penny I bought for over USD3k was delivered to me in a coin album (packed in a cardboard material with plastic cover). I took a cursory look at it paying more attention to the writings […]
In the early 1960’s, the silver supply for the nation’s coinage was dwindling rapidly. As Congress and the Administration debated over silver’s future role in coinage, the silver market jumped 10% immediately, and another 30% by 1962. This set the stage for the complete elimination of silver from our coinage by the end of 1964. Any […]
Todd V. asks: How do I get a rainbow toning on a coin? Or what is the chemical process to make a rainbow tone? “Rainbow” toning or patina is an optical effect caused by graduated layers of silver oxide on the surface of a coin. This is often seen on coins that have been in […]