Linsey L. writes: Recently on the local NYC news was an article about the 1965 US dime being of some possible worth because it was made of silver; but from research I am finding that only up to 1964 are the dimes are made of silver. Who is correct? And what is its worth?
The 1965 silver dime is an error. Only a few have been found. You can tell a silver dime from a copper-nickel clad dime by weighing the coin. A silver dime will weigh 2.5 grams. A copper-nickel clad dime weighs 2.27 grams. Also, you can see the copper core on the edge on most clad dimes.
Henry B. This is an odd question, but… I’m having a heckuva time trying to locate newly minted “shiny” pennies for a giveaway promotion. I bought $50 worth several years ago from a local bank and they’ve lasted me until now. Now my bank can’t get them anymore. I’ve tried several bigger banks – no luck. Do you have any idea for a source for new, shiny pennies? At face value would be great. Thanks for any help you can offer.
Try Brinks. They roll new coins for the banks. You should also be able to order a bag of new cents ($50 face) or any other new coins from the branch where you have an account. See a bank officer or the head teller. The CAN order you a bag if you are assertive (they just don’t want to be bothered).
Nick writes: I have a 1951 Lincoln head cent. The only error I can find wrong with it is that the 1 in the date is severely slanted. I do not know what caused the error, and I was wondering if there was a price for such an error.
This is a common effect of damage from the device that pulls coins through a counting machine. The metal is actually bent at the surface by the tongue that moves the coin. This damage does not constitute an “error” nor does it increase the value of the damaged coin.
John writes: My aunt showed to me a coin she holds close to her heart because of the memories it holds. On a trip to her house today she relayed her story to me, and she was given this 1937 Lost Colony half dollar by her father in 1937 at the play “The Lost Colony,” and I am curious, for my aunt as well as myself, what the history of this coin may be and what a possible value may be. I must add that it is a beautiful representation of Virginia Dare and on the obverse, Sir Walter Raleigh.
The Roanoke Island, North Carolina half dollar was part of the United States commemorative half dollar program that began in 1892 and continues today. The coin was first issued at a celebration at Old Fort Raleigh in 1937 and commemorates the 350th anniversary of Sir Walter Raleigh’s “Lost Colony” and the birth of Virginia Dare, the first Child of European extraction born in British North America.
The coin was designed by Baltimore’s William Marks Simpson and shows a bust of Sir Walter Raleigh facing left and on the reverse, a standing figure of Ellinor Dare holding the baby Virginia Dare. The Philadelphia Mint struck only 29,030 pieces. It is a popular coin among U.S. commemorative collectors but the major demand is for uncirculated examples. Depending on grade (condition), Roanoke Island commemorative half dollars bring approximately $75 – $250.
Michael mD. writes: I have 2 one dollar bills that I found in my wife’s purse and they are real they have never been separated and I wonder how much they are worth together. The number sequence is K 99434068 A with the plate position number B2, and the other one is K 99534068 A and its position number is F2. I don’t know where she got it from but its pretty neat, and I think it may be worth something to a collector.
These would be joined side by side and are from a 36 subject sheet of $1 FRN. B2 and F2 come from the 3rd from the bottom row. See the Plate Position Numbers article to see how the position numbers are arranged. You can purchase full sheets from the United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington D.C.
Often, people cut up a sheet but leave a few notes attached to each other as a gag. (We use to buy 4 subject sheets of $2 notes at major coin shows and spend them in the hotel bar – same gag).
Actually sheets of notes are stacked and cut vertically, not out of a sheet. The vertical stacks are in numerical order. Have fun spending your notes.
Ray writes: I read in a coin book that a Lincoln cent “1990 proof…without the S” is a somewhat rare coin. Is this true? What does 1990 proof…without the S mean, does it mean an ordinary 1990 Lincoln cent without the letter “D” or “S” under the date? Any info would be appreciated. Thank you for your time.
Proof coins are specially made coins struck with specially prepared dies and blanks. The coins are struck twice or more and are carefully handled one at a time. They exhibit mirror fields and often, frosted devices (the design elements). Proof coins are not designed to be spent, though they could be as the designs are identical to their standard circulating cousins though in higher relief.
Proof coins are sold to collectors in sets of proof examples of all the circulating coins of that year. Currently, only proofs are struck at the San Francisco Mint. In prior years the mint mark was added with a punch that was supplied by the Philadelphia Mint and the mint mark was stamped into each die individually. (Mint marks are now part of the finished die).
In 1990 a proof die failed to receive the “S” mint punch and proof coins struck with that die are missing the mint mark. Examples of this error currently bring approximately $1,000. For further reading, see the article Observations on Proof Coinage.
James Z. writes: I am a college professor who at California State University, Hayward. I work with students who will become elementary school teachers. I was visiting a school today, and a fourth grader asked me the following question, “Why is the dime so small?” The penny and nickel are both larger than the dime, but the dime is worth more. Why is the dime smaller than the nickel?
The United States used to have an intrinsic monetary system that relied on circulating precious metal coins for commerce. Coins were “the money”. The United States really didn’t have a national paper money system until 1861 and that was controversial because they were “Legal Tender” notes, not redeemable for coins. This fiat money was one way the United States raised funds to carry on the Civil War. Paper money redeemable for gold and silver coins were restored after the war but the paper was only a receipt for coins.
For money to be intrinsic, a dime had to have virtually 10 cents worth of silver, a quarter had to have virtually 25 cents worth of silver, etc. In the early days of the country the precious metal content of U.S. gold and silver coins was too high in relationship to precious metal prices in Europe and massive amounts of coins were melted, sold in Europe and resold back to the United States. The U.S. reduced the precious metal content in 1834 and then in silver coins in 1853 and then was able to keep coins in circulation. Half dimes, dimes, quarters, half dollars and dollars were struck in .900 fine silver and their value, size and weight were proportional (less a small amount of seigniorige to help defray the Mint’s cost of producing the coin).
Practical considerations demanded a low value token coinage in order to make change. The first copper cents were as almost as large as current day half dollars. This was an attempt to make that coin intrinsic (one cent worth of copper). It eventually became impractical to use such a coin in everyday transactions and that coin was tokenized and reduced by 1857 to the size we see the cent today. Token coinage was not directly redeemable for precious metal coins and therefore not legal tender. For example, a 19th century bank might refuse to change 25 one cent coins into a silver quarter)
The copper-nickel 5 cent was introduced as a token coinage in 1866 as was made larger for practical reasons. Though tiny, silver half dimes continued to be produced until 1873 the larger copper-nickel coin was easier to handle and less likely to be lost. (Note that only precious metal coins had reeded edges. Base metal coins had plain edges)
Though base metal coinage was not legal tender, It was vital to help complete transactions. The two major 19th century coin shortages, in the 1830’s and in the 1860’s, virtually brought commerce to its knees due the dearth of small change. A cottage industry developed during this period making small change in the form of tens of thousands of “good fors” and “advertising tokens” For more info, see: Tokens – The Peoples Money.
After 1964 virtually all precious metals were removed from the U.S. coinage system (a lower content, 40% silver half dollars continued to be produced until 1970) and the entire coinage system became tokenized. Coins were produced that mimicked the look of the old precious metal coins by the clever use of a copper-nickel sandwich with a pure copper core and a reeded edge. This composition is known as copper-nickel “Clad” coinage. The cent and nickel remained the same composition as before. The cent was further debased in 1982 by replacing copper planchets with zinc and then plating them with copper.
Today the size relationship between United States coins still exists but for reasons of tradition only. Also, none of our current coins are legal tender and no one is obligated to accept them as money. Money’s definition has changed radically over the years and now only paper money in the form of Federal Reserve Notes are considered legal tender.
D.D. writes: I have a 1961 Lincoln Penny that has a band around the outside edge. This band does not appear to be altered or added to this coin. Any information would be welcome.
There is no mechanism in a coin press to add a “band” around the edge of a coin. It is possible to have deep edge because of high striking pressure. Also, it is possible for a coin to get stuck to the obverse (upper) die and to strike other coins with the reverse (brockage). The “stuck” coin’s edge increases in size until the coin falls off. I once saw an Eisenhower dollar at the private museum at the Denver Mint that could pass for a small cup. Coins victim to this error have deformed reverses.
Coins are often used in advertising media and are encased in holders. The maker often will solder a band around a cent as a frame to hold the coin in place in a key ring or other advertising holder.
If you believe that your coin is a genuine mint error, you can show the coin to a coin dealer or send it to one of the Grading Services for authentication (see their links on the CoinSite Links page ).