Tim S. writes: I have had now for about 30 years two unusual coins. One is a Half cent coin dated 1857 and the other is a 2 cent coin dated 1863. Both of these coins are much larger than the originals and are heavy. They both are about the size of a Silver Dollar. It has been suggested that they be some type of original dies for those coinages. Any info that you could supply would be helpful, especially if they are valuable.
Coin Dies are the same size as the coins they strike. Galvanos, the plaster and metal casts that are used to trace the original design into a master hub, are much larger than a silver dollar. In addition, dies are the negative image of the coin. (By the way the first year of the two cent piece is 1864).
Over the years, especially in the mid 20th century, private mints have made coin copies either in miniature or in a far larger size than the original for novelty purposes or as way of creating an interesting silver bullion round. Because their creations look different enough from the originals, they avoided being accused of counterfeiting. Recently, the United States Mint has taken to copyrighting the Mint’s designs in order to prevent further confusion by privately made replicas.