Need help identifying 2 old coins? Struck coins, one with two standing human figures facing each other

Need help identifying 2 old coins? Struck coins, one with two standing human figures facing each other

Can anyone tell me what these 2 coins are ? How can I safely clean them?

The first coin doesn't have much detail to go by. But the second coin looks like it might have two soldiers standing with banners. Some Roman coins have that. Here's an example of a coin with Constantine I, c 334-335:

There are a couple of pages with coin cleaning tips on the web. In short: toothpicks, toothbrushes, soap, and (distilled) water; gently, with a lot of care and patience.

Washington quarter

The Washington quarter is the present quarter dollar or 25-cent piece issued by the United States Mint. The coin was first struck in 1932 the original version was designed by sculptor John Flanagan.

As the United States prepared to celebrate the 1932 bicentennial of the birth of its first president, George Washington, members of the bicentennial committee established by Congress sought a Washington half dollar. They wanted to displace for that year only the regular issue Walking Liberty half dollar instead Congress permanently replaced the Standing Liberty quarter, requiring that a depiction of Washington appear on the obverse of the new coin. The committee had engaged sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser to design a commemorative medal, and wanted her to adapt her design for the quarter. Although Fraser's work was supported by the Commission of Fine Arts and its chairman, Charles W. Moore, Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon chose a design by Flanagan, and Mellon's successor, Ogden L. Mills, refused to disturb the decision.

The new silver quarters entered circulation on August 1, 1932, and continued to be struck in silver until the Mint transitioned to copper-nickel clad coinage in 1965. A special reverse commemorating the United States Bicentennial was used in 1975 and 1976, with all pieces bearing the double date 1776–1976 there are no 1975-dated quarters. Since 1999, the original eagle reverse has not been used instead that side of the quarter has commemorated the 50 states, the nation's other jurisdictions, and historic and natural sites—the last as part of the America the Beautiful Quarters series, which continued until 2021. The bust of Washington was modified and made smaller beginning in 1999 in 2010 the original bust was restored (though still small) to bring out greater detail. In 2021, Flanagan's original design resumed its place on the obverse, with a design showing Washington crossing the Delaware River in 1776 for the reverse, while in 2022 a new commemorative series depicting women will commence.

Kennedy Half-Dollar Errors and Varieties

No coin series would be complete without its fair share of mint errors and die varieties. Beginning collectors will want to look for examples as they search their rolls for the following errors and varieties because they carry a premium over the normal common specimens.

1964 Proof Heavily Accented Hair

The hair above Kennedy's hair has a few more incused lines making his hair look more pronounced. Additionally, look at the "I" in LIBERTY. The lower left serif seems to be truncated or missing. Compare a common 1964 Proof Kennedy half-dollar to a Proof with the heavily accented hair variety, and you will see the difference immediately. Ask your local coin dealer to show you the coins so you can learn how to recognize this popular variety.

1964 Proof and Circulation Strike Doubled Die

Look carefully at the words WE TRUST on the obverse of the coin. You will see a slight doubling near the tops of the letter. It is also sometimes evident on the RTY of the word LIBERTY. Some 1964-D coins minted in Denver can also be doubled dies.

1968-S Proof Inverted Mint Mark

In 1968 mint marks were punched by hand into the coin dies. The workmen at the mint facility punched the "S" upside down. Normally the upper hook of the S is smaller than the lower hook. In this variety, the upper hook is larger than the lower. Use a ten powered loupe to help you identify this variety in your collection.

1971-D and 1977-D Struck on 40 Percent Silver Clad

A few of the 40 percent silver-clad planchets used from 1965 to 1970 slipped into regular production lines at the Denver mint in 1971. Silver clad planchets were also used in 1976 to produce the circulating commemorative American Bicentennial half-dollars. Once again, some of these silver-clad planchets were used to make Kennedy half-dollars dated 1977.

1974-D Doubled Die Obverse

A production error occurred on the obverse coin die in 1974. The letters on the coin appear to be doubled. The doubling is especially evident in the letters in TRUST on the obverse.

1979-S Proof Filled S & Clear S

In the middle of 1979, the mint replaced the obverse hubs for the Kennedy half-dollars. Due to years of use, the punch used to put the mint mark on the hub became worn and made the mint mark look more like a blob than an "S." The new hub had a mint mark that was much clearer.

1981-S Proof Clear S & Flat S

Once again in 1981, the hub was redone, and the mint mark was less pronounced and flatter. Additionally, the ends of the hook on the "S" have a bulbous end that is very pronounced.

1998-S Matte Special Mint Strike (SMS) Silver

This coin was part of a special commemorative set that featured a commemorative silver dollar of Robert F. Kennedy. The second coin in the set was a specially struck Kennedy half-dollar that had a matte finish and was made out of 90 percent silver. Unlike the Proof version, this coin does not have mirrored fields and frosted devices. The entire coin has an overall satin finish to it.

2014-W 50th Anniversary Gold Kennedy Half-Dollar

The United States Mint celebrated the 50th anniversary of the minting of the first Kennedy half-dollar. In addition to four other specially minted Kennedy half-dollars, the mint also produced a 99.99 percent pure gold half a troy ounce Kennedy half-dollar in the Proof finish. Only 73,772 coins were minted in this limited production run.

Need help identifying 2 old coins? Struck coins, one with two standing human figures facing each other - History

This glossary explains the meaning of some of the ancient, technical, or hobbyist words used elsewhere on this site, and on other sites too. It includes a few words that relate to ancient history but not directly to coins. I'll add to it as more words come to mind. Words that show up as links are defined somewhere else in the list. If you would like a word added, please email me.

For more detail, I recommend a search on Forum's Numiswiki.


An ornamental curved extension of the stem post on the prow of a galley, sometimes with the addition of a carved animal's head in front. Galleys were often used on ancient coins to symbolise sea power or the successful completion of a journey. See also aplustre. There are several examples on my galley page.

acroterium or acroterion

An ornament, such as a decorative knob or a statue, on the pediment of a temple or other building. Some are at the apex, others are at the corners. The plural is "acroteria."

AE or Æ

An abbreviation used in coin descriptions meaning that the coin is of base metal or alloy, that is, not silver or gold usually copper, brass or bronze. When used with a number, as in "AE23," "AE3" and so on, it indicates the size of the coin. For Greek coins, the number identifies the diameter of the coin in millimetres. For Roman coins, numbers from 1 to 4 indicate a size range. AE1 is over 25mm. AE2 is 21-25 mm. AE3 is 17-21 mm, and AE4 is less than 17mm. The abbreviation AE is derived from the Latin word aes. See also AR and AU.

aegis or ægis

A small leather cloak, or sometimes a shield, with the head or mask of Medusa (a gorgoneion) mounted on it. Shown sometimes by itself, sometimes worn or carried by Athena. For a look at the different ways it was shown on Roman and Greek coins, see my aegis page.

Agathodaemon or Agathodaimon or Agathos Daimon

In ancient Greece, a presiding spirit or genius of vineyards and grainfields, a bringer of good fortune. Represented on Roman Alexandrian coins as a serpent, often bearded, sometimes wearing the skhent, the double crown of Egypt. Alexandrian deities were often subjected to multiple syncretisations, so this is clearly not quite the same creature as the Greek Agathos Daimon.

Brass, bronze or copper base metal coinage. The first Italian base metal coinage was "aes rude," meaning rough or raw metal, and was just chunks of metal, as the name suggests. Later, there were heavy bars with simple designs known as "aes signatum," meaning marked or stamped metal. (An aes signatum is available to handle in the coin gallery of the British Museum in London.)

A cylindrical purple silk roll containing dust, held by the Byzantine emperors during ceremonies. It was intended to remind the emperor of his mortality.

A headband, often made of metal.

An abbreviation used in coin descriptions meaning that the coin is of silver. It derives from "argentum," the Latin for silver. See also AE and AU.

The first letter of the Greek alphabet, also used in ancient times as a numeral. Represented on ancient coins as an upper-case A. Used in the mintmarks of Roman coins to indicate officina 1. Also, of course, used as a letter in the legends of Greek and provincial Roman coins.

A tall vase, common in the ancient world, used for storage and transport of items such as grapes, wine, garum and oil. The neck was thinner than the body, and there were two looped handles on either side of the neck. Some were decorative. The simpler type, used for transporting goods, was made in the thousands and had a pointed base designed to be pushed into soft earth or sand. The word is often used wrongly in coin descriptions when the vessel shown is actually a volute krater.


The name given in modern times to a Roman coin thought to be twice the value of a denarius. Originally a silver coin. The amount of silver in the mix dropped drastically over the years, and later antoniniani were hard to tell from copper or bronze.

The hat worn by some Roman priests, with a spike fixed to the top.

aplustre or aphlaston

The high upcurving decoration on the stern of a galley. Sometimes spelled "apluster" in the American fashion. "Aphlaston" is the Greek name. Characters with a naval connection were sometimes shown on coins holding a miniature aplustre. Galleys were often used on ancient coins to symbolise sea power or the successful completion of a journey. See also acrostolium. There are several examples on my galley page.

A Greek word for the white wool netting which covered the Omphalos, and was also worn by soothsayers. It was related to the casting nets used by hunters. It was made of raw wool which had been carded, but not spun or died. Paintings and copies of the Omphalos showed it with this netting. It can be seen on the example to the right, criss-crossing between the body of a snake.

The Russian name for a cubit, a measure of length which was standardised at 28 inches by Peter the Great. This name is often given to the measuring rod which is sometimes shown carried by Nemesis on Roman provincial coins.

Pronounced "ass." A copper Roman coin of low value, one-quarter of a sestertius. The plural is "asses". See also aes.


A sprinkler, one of the implements of the priestly colleges often shown grouped together on coins. There is an aspergillum second from left on this coin.

An abbreviation used in coin descriptions meaning that the coin is of gold. It derives from "aurum," the Latin for gold. See also AE and AR. Au is also the international chemical symbol for gold.

A man whose job was to divine the future by watching the behaviour of birds. For example, predicting the success of a course of action by observing the flight of birds across the sky, using a lituus. The process is called "augury." The assemblage of priestly instruments on this coin includes a lituus on the right.

In popular culture, the name "Caesar" is often used as a title for all Roman emperors. This indicates that from the Roman viewpoint, our popular culture is barbarous in nature. Julius' successor, Octavian, took the title "Augustus" and soon became known by that title. Thereafter, the reigning emperors were referred to as Augusti, and the title "Caesar" was used by intended heirs or subordinate partners. Only in outlying countries was the term "Caesar" retained for the emperor, which led to the use of titles such as "Tsar" and "Czar."

A gold coin of the late Roman republic and early Roman empire. Valued at 25 denarii. The plural is aurei.

baetyl or baetylus

A sacred stone. There were several in the ancient world, some of them very famous, such as the omphalos in Delphi, and the stone which personified the Syrian sun god Elagabal, which the emperor known as Elagabalus brought to Rome. Coins often showed them in their shrines, like the stone of Zeus Kasios on the right. Some, like the stone of Elagabal and the stone of Zeus Kasios, may have been meteorites. Others, like the omphalos of Delphi, were most likely carved.

To the ancient Greeks, this meant anything non-Hellenic. To the Romans, who took the word from the Greeks, it meant anything not Greek or Roman, or later, anything outside the Roman empire. In modern times, it means things associated with barbarians, people who have not developed a modern civilisation. But if a coin is referred to as "barbarous" it means that it was produced unofficially in an outlying area of the Roman empire, or even outside the border. ("Barbaric" usually means violent and cruel, and is not the best word to use here.) A "barbarous radiate" is a small bronze coin with a radiate portrait on the obverse. The word came from the Greeks, who reckoned that anyone who spoke a language other than theirs sounded as though they were just going "bar &ndash bar &ndash bar."

The second letter of the Greek alphabet, also used in ancient times as a numeral. Represented on ancient coins as an upper-case B. Used in the mintmarks of Roman coins to indicate officina 2. Also, of course, used as a letter in the legends of Greek and provincial Roman coins.

A chariot drawn by two animals, usually horses, but sometimes shown on coins being pulled by other creatures such as elephants, goats or even lions or snakes for ceremonial or symbolic purposes. See also quadriga.

An alloy of bronze (which consists of copper and tin) and silver. The silver content ranges from very high, so that the coin looks like silver, to very low, so that it looks like bronze. See also potin.

A coin which has been mis-struck in such a way that the reverse of the image of one side appears on the other side as an incuse. This occurs when a freshly struck coin sticks to one of the dies and impresses itself into the next blank flan instead of the die it is obstructing.

An alloy of copper and tin, more durable than either alone, and which when new has a shiny yellow appearance. Used for many coins, ancient and modern. The surface rapidly tones to an even brown, and can end up richly patinated. See also billon and potin.

The Latin word for the skull of an ox, sometimes used as a symbol on ancient coins. Sometimes shown decorated with garlands. The plural is "bucrania."

Referring to the eastern remnant of the Roman empire after the downfall of Rome and the western empire. Although "remnant" may not be the right word, as the empire and its descendants lasted for almost a millennium. Byzantine coins are reckoned from the reign of Anastasius I, starting in 491 CE, to the end of the Empire of Trebizond in 1461 CE. The inhabitants did not name themselves "Byzantine." They still thought themselves to be Roman, and usied the Greek word Romaion, a name which is often preferred in modern times.

An ornamental rod twined with two snakes, which face each other at the tip. The rod is often shown winged. It is an attribute of Mercury, the messenger of the gods, and symbolises trade and prosperity. It probably derives from the ribbon-draped willow wand traditionally carried by messengers. When carried by Hermes, the Greek equivalent of Mercury, it is called a kerykeion. It is sometimes confused with the staff of Aesculapius (Asklepios in Greek), which also has an entwined snake, but which has a quite separate medical symbolism. Shown on many ancient coins, either carried, used as a symbol, or as the main type. For some examples, see my pages on Mercury, Felicitas and the corn supply to Rome.

The family name of the man who did not quite become an emperor of Rome, and also, later, the title used for an intended heir, or later still, a junior or subordinate emperor working as an obedient (in theory) partner of the reigning Augustus.


A mythical animal with the forepart of a goat and the tail of a fish. Sometimes shown in pairs, back-to-back, when the fishy tail is not clearly visible.

In modern usage, an engraver of coin dies. "Caelator" is a real Latin word, but its use with this meaning (and a modern American spelling) is a recent invention. In ancient times it referred to "caelatura," which seems to have meant some sort of fancy metal-work not connected with coinage.

A race of mythical creatures with the body of a horse and the upper body and head of a man, connected where the horse's neck would be.

A rustic lyre, made from a tortoise shell. It was supposed to have been invented by the god Hermes and given by him to Apollo. The larger professional lyre is a kithara.

Chimaera or Chimæra or Chimaira or Chimera

Chimaera (sometimes "the Chimaera," but actually Chimaera was its name) was a mythical creature. According to Homer, it had the body and head of a lion, the tail of a snake, and a goat's head growing from its back. According to Hesiod it had three heads a lion in front, a dragon at the back and a goat in the middle. It was supposed to be able to breathe fire. The Homeric type appears on several coins. This creature was killed by the legendary hero Bellerophon, riding the winged horse Pegasus.

A monogram made up of the Greek letters Chi and Rho. See Christogram

A simple ancient Greek cloak, probably formed by draping a square of wool diagonally. Typically worn by a traveller, hence worn by Hermes and Mercury. A flimsy cloak usually called a chlamys is often the only clothing of heroically nude figures such as Sol, Mars or Genius on Roman coins, shown draped over the shoulders or off one arm, enhancing rather than concealing the nude form. For more detail, see this chlamys footnote.


A monogram made up of the Greek letters Chi and Rho, which look to us like X and P. These letters make up the start of the name of Christ in Greek. Sometimes called a Chi-Rho. Often shown on coins being engraved on a shield, or on a labarum.

A small column or pillar, often with an inscription, sometimes shown supporting some object on Roman coins.

Two heads in profile next to each other, so that both profiles can be seen. See jugate.


A type of Roman medallion with a depressed border inside the rim.

On ancient coins, this means wheat or barley, not maize. Many coin descriptions, especially older ones, were written using "corn" to mean the local grain crop, in the British fashion. Maize was not a food crop in the ancient world. There are some examples on my page on the corn supply to Rome.

cornucopia or cornucopiae

A horn which in legend contained endless good things, usually shown with fruits overflowing or being poured out. The word was originally two words, cornu copiæ, meaning "horn of plenty," so although the standard English word is "cornucopia," it is often seen in coin descriptions as "cornucopiae." Often carried by personifications on ancient coins. There are many examples on my horn of plenty page.

criocamp or criocampus

A mythical sea creature with the head and forelimbs of a ram, and a sinuous fishy rear end. Scarce on coins, and perhaps only appears on this antoninianus of Gallienus. See also hippocamp.

Wearing a cuirass, the top section of a suit of armour. Used to describe the bust of an emperor. Often used together with draped, as "draped and cuirassed," in which case only a fraction of the armour might be visible.

A curule chair was a folding camp-stool with curved legs, symbolic of and used by certain senior Roman magistrates, particularly the curule aedile. Consuls were also entitled to such a chair.

The fourth letter of the Greek alphabet, also used in ancient times as a numeral. Represented on ancient coins as a triangle, &Delta, often with decorative serifs. Used in the mintmarks of Roman coins to indicate officina 4. Also, of course, used as a letter in the legends of Greek and provincial Roman coins.

A silver Roman coin, produced during the Republic and the first three centuries of the Empire. Sixteen times the value of an as, four times the value of a sestertius. The plural is "denarii".

An ornate headband, tied at the back. Late Roman coins commonly show the emperor wearing a diadem of pearls, or sometimes rosettes and laurel leaves, to indicate royalty. In coin descriptions, a person wearing one is said to be "diademed".

In connection with coins, this means the stamp which placed the impression or design on a blank coin flan. Two dies were required, one for each side. The flan was placed on the lower die, which usually had the obverse image the upper die, with the reverse image, was placed on top of it, and was struck one or more times with a hammer. Not to be confused with Julius Caesar's famous saying when he crossed the Rubicon, "Alea jacta est," usually translated as "The die is cast." That die is the singular of dice.

Digamma or Wau

The sixth letter of the archaic Greek alphabet, still used in ancient times as a numeral even though it was no longer part of the written alphabet. Represented on ancient coins either as a capital S or as a similar character with the lower curve elongated and straightened. Used in the mintmarks of Roman coins to indicate officina 6. Very often referred to in coin descriptions as a Stigma this is inaccurate.

Having two columns. On Roman coins, they usually belonged to a shrine or temple. The word describes the number of columns shown on the coin, not the number the actual temple might have had. See also tetrastyle and hexastyle.

Wearing clothing other than armour. Used to describe the bust of an emperor. Wearing clothing without armour would be "draped" wearing something such as a cloak over armour would be called "draped and cuirassed".

A Roman coin, usually made of brass or copper. Twice the value of an as. On dupondii, the head of the emperor was usually radiate, and this can be recognised even when the coin is quite worn to distinguish it from an as. The plural is "dupondii."

The eighth letter of the archaic Greek alphabet (but only the seventh letter in the ancient written language - see Digamma). Also used as a numeral. Represented on ancient coins as a capital H. Used in the mintmarks of Roman coins to indicate officina 8. Also, of course, used as a letter in the legends of Greek and provincial Roman coins.

The fifth letter of the Greek alphabet, also used in ancient times as a numeral. Represented on ancient coins either as a straight-backed capital E, or a lunate Є. Used in the mintmarks of Roman coins to indicate officina 5. Also used to indicate the value of a Byzantine 5-nummus coin. Also, of course, used as a letter in the legends of Greek and provincial Roman coins.

A space at the bottom of the reverse of a coin. Often, a line is drawn to separate this space from the rest of the coin. Mint marks are often found here on Roman bronze coins. Sometimes part of the legend is placed here, for example on some Roman silver coins.

fascis or fasces

A bundle of sticks, particularly the bundle containing an axe which was carried by lictors, who preceded Roman magistrates when they walked through the streets. It symbolised their authority.

When used of coins, this means the flat undecorated area, usually between the legend and the central design or type. Sometimes, mint marks or other control marks are placed here.

The blank from which a coin is struck. Flans were made and prepared in different ways in different places and times. Commonly they would be a weighed and perhaps smoothed disk of metal, which would be heated just before the coin was struck.

A bag, bellows, money-purse or scrotum. Used to mean a type of late Roman coin from the time of Diocletian, perhaps because it was worth enough smaller coins to be a purse-full in itself. Also used for certain large Byzantine or Romaion coins which had a value of 40 nummi.

fourée or fourrée

An ancient counterfeit or unofficial coin with a base metal core and a precious metal surface. They are often very patchy, and sometimes only a bronze core remains to be seen.

The third letter of the Greek alphabet, also used in ancient times as a numeral. Represented on ancient coins as an inverted upper-case L, &Gamma. Used in the mintmarks of Roman coins to indicate officina 3. Also, of course, used as a letter in the legends of Greek and provincial Roman coins.

Head, or face, or mask of a gorgon, particularly of the gorgon Medusa. Used on coins and amulets and the Aegis. For some examples, see my pages on the story of Medusa and ancient coins showing the Aegis.

griffin or gryphon

A mythical creature having the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle.

A narrow-necked jug, one of the implements of the priestly colleges often shown grouped together on coins. There is a guttus on this coin, the second object from the right.

An agricultural implement with a hooked extension, used like a sickle or scythe, used by Saturn and shown with him on Republican coins and a coin of Gallienus. Also, when adapted as a hand weapon, the type of sword used by Perseus to kill Medusa. There are some examples on my page about the story of Medusa.

Having six columns. On Roman coins, they usually belonged to a temple. The word describes the number of columns shown on the coin, not the number the actual temple might have had. See also distyle and tetrastyle .

hippocamp or hippocampus

A mythical sea creature with the head and forelimbs of a horse, and a sinuous fishy rear end. Some have wings, and some do not. See also criocamp.

A many-headed water monster that lived in Lake Lernea, which Hercules killed as one of his twelve labours.

A design which is below the level of the coin's surface rather than standing out above it, which would be much more usual. Sometimes done on purpose, sometimes by accident, as in a brockage. Many Greek coins have the reverse design inside a larger incuse square.

The tenth letter of the archaic Greek alphabet (but only the ninth letter in the ancient written language - see Digamma). Also used as a numeral. Represented on ancient coins as a capital I. Used in the mintmarks of Roman coins to indicate officina 10, and in combination with other letters to indicate higher officina numbers. Also, of course, used as a letter in the legends of Greek and provincial Roman coins.

Two heads joined at the back and facing in opposite directions, like the god Janus.

Two heads in profile next to each other, so that both profiles can be seen. Sometimes called conjoined.

In ancient Greek culture, a basket with a flared top, used to carry corn and also other light materials. Sometimes referred to as a "bushel measure." Sometimes copied as a miniature in metal or ceramics as a symbolic item, or to hold votive offerings. Sometimes shown on Roman coins worn as symbolic headgear by deities or personifications, and when it is, coin descriptions often incorrectly call it a polos or a modius. There is a kalathos and some examples of modii on my page about the corn supply to Rome.

An ancient Greek drinking cup, with two large handles that rose above the rim. Shown on coins by itself, or being carried by characters associated with carousing, such as satyrs.

The staff of Hermes. See caduceus for details.

A lyre, a larger professional version of the simple folk instrument called a chelys. "Kithara" is the Greek word the Latin version is "cithara."

Korybant or Corybant

An attendant on the goddess Cybele, usually one of a group. The plural is "Korybantes." They wore crested helmets and armour, and worshipped the goddess with dancing to the beat of a drum. The example on the right appears to be naked to the waist.

A large ceramic or bronze container used by the ancient Greeks for mixing wine and water, ready to drink. There are four different types, of varying shape. The one most often seen on ancient Greek coins is a volute krater. In coin descriptions, this vessel is often incorrectly identified as an amphora.

A standard with a Christogram, often shown on coins of the family of Constantine the Great.

A double-headed axe, sometimes carried by Zeus or Jupiter, sometimes used as a symbol.

A shepherd's throwing stick, sometimes referred to as a boomerang, used for bringing down small creatures such as rabbits. The word is also sometimes used to refer to a shepherd's crook, which in latin is a pedum, but that confuses the two separate uses of such a thing, perhaps because it is sometimes hard to tell which one is being shown. But that is not always so. The first example shown here might indeed be either based on its appearance. The second example is clearly a throwing stick.

A large bowl sometimes placed on a tripod.

When used of coins, this means the writing on the coin, usually excluding the mintmarks and any special marks in the field. Typically, the legend runs around the outside edge of the coin, though there are exceptions, especially with non-Roman coins.

A liknon was a shallow high-backed basket, used to throw up threshed corn to separate the grain from the chaff. This object is sometimes called a winnowing fan &mdash in fact, this device is the first meaning of the word "fan" given in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Pronounced "lee-mays". Latin for a limit or boundary, and in relation to coins it means the boundaries of the empire. Limes coins, coins of the limes, and limes falsa all mean base metal versions of silver coins, usually found near the north and east boundaries of the Roman empire and assumed to have been made there. Some are cast, some appear to have been struck, and many are so well engraved that there is a view that they were made with official dies. This is strongly disputed by other respected experts, who believe they are contemporary fakes.

A curved wand used by an augur. The augur would use the lituus to mark out the divisions of the sky in which he would make his observations. Sometimes shown on Roman coins together with other implements of the priestly colleges such as a jug or guttus, a knife, a sprinkler or aspergillum, a patera, an apex, a bucranium, and a simpulum. The plural is "litui."

Curved in the shape of a crescent moon. Used, for example, to describe a lunate Epsilon, Є.

Literally, the hand of God. On coins, it refers to the depiction of a hand reaching down from above on late Roman bronze coins, often holding a halo above the head of the figure on the coin.

Literally a napkin or tablecloth, used to dry the hands when they were washed after a meal. The sort of cloth dropped by the emperor or presiding magistrate to signal the start of a race. Later, an attribute of the consuls. On late Roman bronze coins, sometimes shown gripped by the emperor on the obverse. The origin of the modern word "map," which now means something rather different.

mint mark or mintmark

A sequence of letters or symbols that show which mint, and sometimes also which officina, produced a coin. Often to be found in the exergue or the field of Roman coins.

A basket or container used as a measure for corn. Often shown on Roman imperial coins as an indication of the corn supply, and sometimes worn as a symbolic hat by personifications to which the corn supply was relevant. The Greek equivalent is a kalathos. Many coin descriptions incorrectly identify kalathoi as modii. For some examples, see my page on the corn supply to Rome.

Two or more letters combined into a single design. An obvious example on Roman coins is the christogram found on late Roman bronze coins. Many Greek and Roman republican coins also used monograms.

A coin with the obverse of one type and the reverse of another. These coins are made in official mints but are clearly mistakes caused by using the wrong dies. Often they are discovered because the obverse is of an emperor and the reverse is of his empress, or of a previous emperor.

mural crown

A crown or headdress in the shape of a city wall. A personage wearing such a crown is said to be turreted.

The Greek for a cane or wand. On coins, it refers to the stems of giant fennel used to construct the thyrsos of Dionysos. Some coins show the god carrying two narthex wands.

A fawn's skin. Originally worn by hunters, later by worshippers of Dionysos and by Pan and fauns. The example shown here is carried over Pan's left arm - you can see two hooves dangling from it.

Having a nimbus or halo surrounding the head. Often seen on Byzantine coins, rare before that.

A small Byzantine copper coin, rarely seen but used as the base value for larger copper coins. These multiples had a large letter on the reverse which showed their value in nummi in the Greek style. Those seen most often are: M for 40 nummi (see "follis"), K for 20 nummi, I for 10 nummi and Є for 5 nummi.

The front, or "heads" side, of a coin. On Roman Imperial coins, usually shows the head of the Emperor or a relative. On Roman Republican coins, can show a variety of themes. On Greek coins, it's sometimes not even clear which side of the coin we are referring to. The other side is called the reverse.

A workshop within a mint. Most mints had several workshops and it seems that it was sometimes useful to be clear about who had produced which coins. Therefore, mint marks or marks in the field often included this information.

Oinochoe or Oenochoe

A small jug with a spout and one handle, used for pouring wine into drinking cups.

The Omphalos was a sacred stone sited near the prophetic chamber of the oracle of Delphi. The word means "navel" in Greek, indicating its position in the centre of the Hellenic world. There were several copies, and some other stones are sometimes given this name, but the Delphi stone is the original and the one which is usually meant by the term. Apollo, the patron deity of the Delphic oracle, is often shown seated on the Omphalos. It was usually shown on coins as covered by a white wool netting, the agrenon, though this is worn to invisibility on many examples. See also baetyl.

orichalc or orichalcum

A brass alloy which was used to make such Roman coins as sestertii and dupondii. An earlier Greek meaning is "mountain copper."

The sacred statue of Pallas Athene, also called Minerva, carrying shield and spear, which was held in safe keeping by the Vestal Virgins. Sometimes shown carried on Roman coins.


A Roman military cloak worn over armour for warmth. Sometimes shown on coins just as a fold over the shoulder of the armour. Heavier than a chlamys.

A short triangular sword or long dagger. Often carried on Roman coins, sheathed, hilt outwards, by the emperor or by Virtus.

A shallow dish from which a sacrifice or libation could be poured, often onto an altar. Many Roman coin reverse types show figures holding a patera, which symbolised piety and religious intent. Some coins showed creatures with religious connections, such as snakes and peacocks, being fed from them. The nearest Greek equivalent was the phiale.

On coins, the triangular space between the roof of a temple and the lintel or ceiling line, usually containing some form of decoration. See also acroterium.

A shepherd's crook. Examples on coins are sometimes labelled as a lagobalon, a rabbit hunter's throwing stick. The example shown here might be either based on its appearance.

Pegasus or Pegasos

A mythical winged horse, supposedly born fully formed from the severed neck of the Gorgon Medusa when she was killed by Perseus. Later ridden by the hero Bellerophon. Appeared on many Greek and Roman coins, as shown on my Pegasus page. Called Pegasos by the Greeks and Pegasus by the Romans.


An ornate drinking vessel consisting of a drinking horn decorated with a model of the forepart of the mythical winged horse Pegasos. Appears on coins of Skepsis. In real life, the horn would be larger in proportion than shown on this coin.

petasos or petasus

A broad-brimmed Greek sun-hat, typically worn by travellers and so worn by Hermes and Mercury. The petasos of Hermes and Mercury is usually shown winged, representing great speed as much as flight. "Petasos" is the Greek word "Petasus" is Latin.

In ancient Greek culture, a shallow dish, metal or ceramic, from which a libation of wine could be poured. It had a raised dimple in the centre into which a steadying finger could fit from below and a thumb could rest on top, and so might be called a "phiale mesomphalos." The nearest Roman equivalent, but lacking the dimple, was the patera but many Roman coins showed a phiale mesomphalos rather than a patera, as can be seen by the placement of the thumb or finger.

phoenix or ph&oelignix

Pronounced "fee-niks". A mythical bird that at the end of its life was said to make a nest of cinnamon twigs, set light to it and burn up, then rise renewed from the flames. Often used as a symbol of eternity or immortality. A radiate phoenix on a globe is seen on several Roman coins.

A felt cap, more or less conical, worn by freed Roman slaves, and known as the cap of freedom a similar cap is worn by the French Marianne and appears on the so-called Mercury dime, with the same meaning, though in those cases it had a turned-over top and was called a Phrygian cap. Held on Roman coins by Libertas, the personification of freedom. It was also associated with the Dioscuri, the heavenly twins, and when two pilei were shown on a coin, that is what they symbolised.

Cylindrical headwear worn by some eastern deities. The name is often inaccurately applied to a kalathos.

The formal and religious boundary of the city of ancient Rome, marked out by white stones. It did not include all of the famous seven hills. Tradition held that it was the line marked out with a plough by Romulus when he founded the city. The pomerium was extended by Claudius and perhaps also by others.

An alloy of copper, tin and lead, of varying proportions but higher in lead than most ancient bronze coins, which are essentially copper and tin. The lead content gives a smoother look and feel to the surface of such coins and sometimes allows a red patina to form. It was used in Gaul to make Celtic coins, and in Alexandria to make later Roman tetradrachms. See also billon.

A Greek pottery vessel designed for pouring.

A frontal view of an animal. On coins, typically the forepart of an animal (or mythical creature) cut off at the middle.

The front of a sailing vessel, for example a galley. Sometimes shown apart from the rest of the vessel, sometimes in miniature with a figure standing on it, often resting a foot on it. There are several examples on my galley page.

The double crown of Egypt. An alternative spelling of the word skhent.

Carthaginian. The word derives from the Greek for Phoenician. Carthage was originally a Phoenician colony, whose name meant "New Town" in the Phoenician tongue.

A copper coin worth a quarter of an as. This was really small change. The plural is "quadrantes."

A chariot drawn by four creatures, usually horses, but sometimes shown on coins being pulled by other creatures for ceremonial purposes. Ben Hur raced a fast quadriga in the film. See also biga.

A half-denarius or half-aureus coin. The plural is "quinarii."

Wearing a crown of spiky rays, representing the rays of the sun. Early Roman emperors were shown radiate on some coins later ones, on most of their coins. The Roman sun-god Sol and the Greek sun-god Helios were always shown radiate &ndash see my page on Sol for examples.


When used of Roman coins, it means an issue that replicates an older coin, perhaps with a few minor changes. Sometimes this was done to ensure that revered predecessors stayed circulating on the coinage when old coins were recalled for a change in the money system. Sometimes it was to honour a particular ancestor.

The back, or "tails" side, of a coin. On Roman Imperial coins, usually shows propaganda of some kind. On Roman Republican coins, usually shows a theme which glorifies an ancestor of the moneyer. On Greek coins, it's sometimes not even clear which side of the coin we are referring to. The other side is called the obverse.

In coin descriptions, this usually refers to a spear held point downwards, which is supposed to be a less aggressive stance than when it is held with the point upwards.

A drinking vessel in the shape of a horn. Originally, made from a horn, and with a hole at the end to drink through. Often ornamented with animal's heads. See also Pegasosrhyton.

The Greek word for Roman, referring to the eastern remnant of the Roman empire after the downfall of Rome and the western empire. This adjective is often preferred to Byzantine.

rostral column

A column with the foreparts of galleys mounted on it, celebrating a naval victory.

rostral crown

A wreath or crown consisting of miniaturised foreparts of galleys, awarded by the Senate to leaders of naval victories.

The ram or beak on the prow of a galley, often with two or three prongs. Although at or under the waterline in real life, so as to sink rammed ships, often shown above water level on coins. The word also came to mean the speaker's platform in the Roman forum, which had the beaks of galleys mounted on it.

saccos or sakkos

A bag, sometimes worn over the hair and head of females on Greek coins. It could be bound with cord to form attractive shapes.

sceptre or scepter

A staff or rod which might have ornamental ends, carried as a symbol of royalty, or by some deities. Sceptres were sometimes long, often taller than the person carrying them and sometimes short, and held almost playfully. Some emperors were shown carrying a sceptre tipped with an eagle. ("Scepter" is the American spelling.)

A coin struck in the Roman Republic and the early Imperial period, with a value of half an as. The plural is "semisses".

serrated or serratus

Having a notched edge. Typical of some Roman republican denarii and the flans of some Seleucid bronze coins. The modern adjective is "serrated" "denarius serratus" is Latin for a serrated denarius.

A large Roman brass coin. Four times the value of an as. The plural is "sestertii".

A small ladle used in religious ceremonies. Sometimes shown on Roman coins together with other implements of the priestly colleges such as a jug, a knife, a sprinkler, a patera, an apex, a bucranium, and an augur's lituus. The plural is "simpuli".

A metallic jangling rattle, carried by the goddess Isis, along with her situla, and used by her priests to draw attention to the various stages of their ceremonies. The plural is "sistra." See my page on Isis for examples.

A water carrier in the form of a large jug or a bucket. A ceremonial situla, sometimes with an appearance of basket-work, is carried by the goddess Isis, along with her sistrum. See my page on Isis for examples.

The double crown of Egypt, combining the crowns of the older separate kingdoms of the upper Nile and the lower Nile. The illustration on the right is not very clear it shows the shkent on the head of the serpent Agathodaemon. An alternative spelling of the same word is pschent.

A deep drinking mug with two loop handles at its sides. The handles may be horizontal or vertical in orientation, or one of each in a so-called "owl" or "glaux" skyphos. The handes are relatively plain and do not loop high and ornately like those of a kantharos.

A decorated hair band which forms a U-shape around back of the head. Also used to refer to a full hair band when the rear part is the dominant feature. (Definition from Numiswiki)

A mythical creature. In Greek myth she was unique, a creature called Sphinx who had the body of a winged lion and a human head. Other mythologies have multiple sphinxes, including the Egyptian, where they were usually temple guardians and of course there is the famous Egyptian sphinx at Giza with the body of a recumbent lion and the head of the Pharaoh Khafra.

A casting sprue is a projection on the edge of a coin, showing that the flan was cast rather than shaped in any other way. It is the place where the blank coin was broken away from its attachment before the pattern was struck onto it. Some coins were legitimately made this way. On coins that were not, it is a sign of a fake.

A pole or spear which acted as the emblem of a cohort within a Roman legion. The pole was decorated with disks, wreaths and battle honours, and a hand was often fixed on the top. Not the same device as the eagle fixed to a pole which was the emblem of the whole legion.

Star-shaped, or radiating from a central point. Sometimes the actual pattern is some way away from the ideal. The example shown is a double stellate pattern.

stephane or stephanos

A Greek word meaning a crown or coronet, shown worn by some females on Greek and Roman coins. Sometimes referred to as a diadem, even though it does not resemble the ornate type of headband normally called by that name.

A name often wrongly used for the Digamma or Wau, the sixth letter of the archaic Greek alphabet, which was used as a numeral in ancient times, including on ancient coins. "Stigma" actually represents the medieval (manuscript) and modern (15th-19th century printing) ligature of two letters, S + T, and has nothing to do with the archaic Digamma the name came to be used in that way purely because of a coincidence in the shape of the characters concerned. For more detail, see this stigma footnote.

A set of pipes made from hollow reeds of different lengths tied together. Carried by the god Pan, who supposedly invented them, and sometimes called "pan pipes".

tainia or taenia

Literally a ribbon, the word also means a traditional Greek headband. "Tainia" is the Greek word and "taenia" is the Latin version. It can be distinguished from a diadem by not having ties at the back.

A square tablet which could be marked with various information such as a watchword. It is often stated that the tablet carried on Roman coins by Liberalitas is a tessera marked with points which represent gifts such as money and corn. However, it is clear on early medallions showing liberalitas scenes that this is actually a counting board, a board with circular depressions holding coins which allowed a standard sum to be quickly and easily measured and then poured into the recipient's toga.


A coin valued at four drachms. What constituted a drachm varied with place and time, and an ancient tetradrachm can be a large, heavy silver coin or a smaller potin one.

Having four columns. On Roman coins, they usually belonged to a temple. The word describes the number of columns shown on the coin, not the number the actual temple might have had. See also distyle and hexastyle .

The ninth letter of the archaic Greek alphabet (but only the eighth letter in the ancient written language - see Digamma). Also used as a numeral. Represented on ancient coins as a capital O with a central line, &Theta. Used in the mintmarks of Roman coins to indicate officina 9. Also, of course, used as a letter in the legends of Greek and provincial Roman coins.


A representation of a bolt of lightning, having a central core from which spiky or decorative lines emerged to either side. Often shown with wings. Usually shown by itself carried by Zeus (Greek) or Jupiter (Roman) carried by his daughter Athena (Greek) or Minerva (Roman) or grasped by an eagle, Zeus' sacred bird.

thymiaterion or thymiaterium

Often called a candelabrum-altar, this was a stand which held a bowl or dish at about waist height. The bowl probably held hot coals or charcoal so that incense dropped on it would smoke attractively. "Thymiaterion" is the original Greek word and "thymiaterium" is the Latin equivalent. On Roman coins, various characters are shown dropping incense onto a thymiaterium as an act of piety.

thyrsus or thyrsos

A staff traditionally made from a stem of the giant fennel plant (sometimes called a ferula), wound with ivy and sometimes with ribbons, and tipped with a pine cone. Carried by Dionysos, and representing his spirit. "Thyrsos" is the Greek word and "thyrsus" is the Latin version.

Wearing a toga. Some Roman coins show the emperor togate, sometimes with the toga pulled up over the head in a religious scene.

When used in coin descriptions, this means something held at an angle, usually across the body, rather than straight up and down. For example, a spear, a long sceptre, or a long caduceus.

Literally, having three teeth. Used to mean a spear with three prongs, the traditional weapon of Neptune (Roman) and Poseidon (Greek).

A bronze coin of the Roman republic, valued at four unciae, or one-third of an as. The plural is "trientes."

Literally, having three feet. Normally applied to a three-legged altar, or a stand for a large bowl usually called a lebes, a combination that coin descriptions often call a tripod-lebes. A tripod-seat on its own is associated with Apollo, because the priestess of his shrine at Delphi sat on a tripod to give oracular pronouncements.

A mythical creature with a human body and the tail of a dolphin or fish. Triton proper was a Greek god, the messenger of the sea, the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite. The name can also refer to lesser creatures with the same form, who could be either male or female. The female Triton shown here is a variant with wings.

The weapons and armour of a defeated enemy, attached to a pole. Shown on Roman coins carried by Mars and sometimes by Victory, or standing with one or a pair of captives bound at its foot. May be called a tropaion on descriptions of coins from Greek-speaking areas.

Wearing as a headdress a crown representing a city wall, sometimes with towers and turrets of different heights. Sometimes referred to as a mural crown.

A simple drum composed of a membrane stretched over a circular support, like a tambourine without the jangles. It is shown on coins carried by, or accompanying, Cybele and the Magna Mater. There are examples on my Cybele page.

When used of Roman coins, this means the main design on the reverse, usually inside the legend and above the exergue.

A bronze coin of the Roman republic, valued at one twelfth of an as. The plural is "unciae."

When used of coins, it means that the coin was not made in an official mint. It might be a contemporary fake, or a coin made for local use in the absence of official small change (sometimes called "money of necessity"). Examples include the so-called barbarous radiates, and most fourrée coins.

The military standard of a subdivision of a Roman legion.

Vows. On coins, usually for the safety of the emperor. Late Roman bronze coins showed vows both given and renewed for five years or multiples of ten years.

The seventh letter of the archaic Greek alphabet (but only the sixth letter in the ancient written language - see Digamma). Also used as a numeral. Represented on ancient coins as a capital Z. Used in the mintmarks of Roman coins to indicate officina 7. Also, of course, used as a letter in the legends of Greek and provincial Roman coins.

U. S. Mint Error Coins

In any manufacturing process there are bound to be mistakes made. Both human and mechanical errors occur on an irregular basis, resulting in defective products. In most industries these bad parts are caught by quality control inspectors or by the persons responsible for packaging the finished products. When spotted, these rejects are simply destroyed. If they succeed in eluding detection, the customer who receives the erroneous part will likely return it for a refund or exchange. But what happens when the defective item is money?

The United States Mint, at its various facilities, produces billions of coins annually. This works out to more than 40 million coins daily at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints and somewhat lesser numbers at the specialized West Point and San Francisco Mints. Whenever that much of anything is produced there are bound to be errors made.

Modern coins are struck at such a high rate of speed that the human eye can barely perceive it. The fastest of the new coin presses can strike nearly ten coins per second! If these coins are somehow incorrect, the only way to spot the error is by examining the finished pieces after they fall into the receiving hopper. While this is done on an occasional basis, the day-to-day reality of producing millions of coins is that all but a very few United States coins are shipped without any visual inspection.

To help prevent error coins from leaving the mints or even from being produced in the first place, each coining facility has installed riddling devices. These are mechanical sifters that cull out undersize, oversize and mis-shapen planchets and coins. In theory, this should prevent all but normally-sized and normally-shaped coins from leaving the mint, but the evidence found in the error coins themselves proves otherwise. Though most of the errors that manage to pass through the mints’ quality control stations are of approximately normal configuration, some wildly oversize or mis-shapen pieces do escape. This is sometimes no accident, as mint employees have been caught selling error coins to collectors and dealers for a nice profit. The U. S. Mint is very aggressive about prosecuting this crime, but the high value assigned to rare error coins remains an incentive for mischief.

It was not always so. For generations, collectors of United States coins dismissed error pieces as simply curiosities, considering them to be less desirable than normally struck issues. All error coins were lumped together somewhat condescendingly under the acronym of FIDOs (Freaks, Irregulars, Defectives and Oddities). It wasn’t until the 1960s that the collecting of error coins finally gained some respect, clubs devoted to their study being established at that time. Since then, the premiums attached to error coins have risen dramatically. Concurrent with this rise in value, serious researchers have been able to determine exactly how each type of error coin is produced and, in so doing, have revealed much about the minting process in general.

Dealers and collectors of mint errors classify each piece under one of three headings: Planchet, Die or Strike. This handy “P-D-S” system is easy to remember, and it can account for just about any type of error one encounters. Of course, some coins are the product of multiple errors. For example, a defective planchet can lead to a mis-strike, with the resulting coin being the product of both “P” and “S” errors. For the most part, however, mint error coins fall under just one of the three headings. Let’s examine each one and the errors that might result from it.

A planchet is distinguished from a simple coin blank by having a raised rim. This rim is applied to the blank by an upsetting mill, which compresses the blank’s edge as it is spun between two beveled surfaces. Planchet errors encompass all mistakes resulting from a defective blank, whether or not it has passed through the upsetting mill.

The most basic type of planchet error is when the wrong planchet is fed into a press. Since both the loading tube and the die collar are sized for the appropriate denomination of coin, only planchets of the correct or smaller size can be struck within the press. This means that a dime planchet can be struck by quarter dollar dies, but a quarter dollar planchet cannot be struck by dime dies, since it won’t fit into either the feeder tube or the collar. These wrong planchet errors typically occur when a few stray planchets of one denomination remain within a hopper that is subsequently loaded with planchets for another denomination. Sometimes finished coins are still in the hopper and become overstruck with different dies.

Another planchet error, one that is highly sought by collectors, occurs when a planchet intended for a foreign nation’s coinage is struck by dies for a United States coin. This type of error was more common before 1984, when the U. S. Mint cut back its production of coins for other countries. It still may occur, however, as planchets are supplied to our mints by commercial vendors, and these vendors also service the mints of other countries. It’s not impossible for a shipment of planchets intended for one country to accidentally include those of another.

A fairly common planchet error is popularly known as a “clipped” planchet, though the more correct term is incomplete planchet. When the planchet punching press does not advance the metal strip properly, the resulting strokes may overlap previously punched out metal and produce planchets that are incomplete. Straight or irregular clips occur when planchets are punched from the peripheries of the strip. If these incomplete planchets are not caught by the riddling machine, they result in coins that are likewise missing a portion of their area.

Many other planchet errors can occur. Cents coined since 1982 are sometimes lacking their brass plating, and dimes, quarters and halves made since 1965 are occasionally struck on planchets that are missing one or both outer claddings. Conversely, they may be struck on just a clad layer that is not bonded to the copper core. Lesser planchet errors include laminated and sintered planchets, but such coins bring only minor premiums among error collectors.

The term “die error” is something of a misnomer, as anything associated with a damaged or mis-made die is more correctly described as a variety. Still, such flawed pieces are typically sought by collectors of mint errors and are described as error coins.

Perhaps the most popular die errors are major die breaks, commonly known as “cuds.” These occur when a portion of the die breaks away as the consequence of a progressive crack. Though made of tool steel, dies suffer from the repeated stress of striking planchets, and they will wear and, in some instances, crack. As these cracks deepen and reach from one edge of the die face to another, that portion defined by the crack may actually fall away from the die. The planchet metal then fills this void, the resulting coins showing a featureless blob where the die broke.

Dies may be damaged in other ways, such as having some foreign matter compressed into their surfaces. A set screw or some other part of the press falling onto a die can result in severe scarring that is then transferred to each coin. Bits of wire or fibers from a brush used to clean the die will not damage it, but they can leave impressions on a coin, since planchets are not as hard as the die face.

Striking errors are the third major class of mint errors, and these often produce the most dramatic and desirable error coins. One popular error is the multistruck coin, in which a coin fails to eject from the press and is struck again and again with multiple images. Off-centered coins are relatively common, and they occur when the planchet is not properly centered within the collar. Broadstrikes are common, and they’re the result of the collar jamming or otherwise failing to enclose the planchet. If the collar becomes jammed within the press, a partial collar error can result in which some portion of the coin’s edge is properly formed while another portion is broadstruck.

Things really get exciting when a coin adheres to the die face and then becomes a die in itself. The next few coins become brockages and will be either two-headed or two-tailed, one side showing a transposed image courtesy of the stuck coin. The piece adhering to the die will quickly become distorted, often wrapping itself around the die’s neck, forming a cap. There are numerous variations of this basic scenario, and the error coins that can result from it are often spectacular.

The collecting of mint errors is one of the fastest growing areas in United States numismatics. Several specialty clubs exist, CONECA being perhaps the most prominent. More and more American collectors are discovering the great values to be found in world coin errors, and this too is a growing field.

From the NGC Photo Proof Series. Copyright © 2001 – 2014 The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. All rights reserved.

Coin Talk

I have read that in the 19th century collectors were much more interested in rarity (as opposed to condition) than today - it could be that most ancient coins were not available in higher grades in an era before the metal detector and organized hoards of diggers (sorry for the pun). Or it could be that history was more important and a coin that had historical value would be prized much higher than a more common coin in splendid condition.

My area of interest is Severan sestertii. One of the interesting aspects of this area is the rarity of coins from the period approximately 199/200AD to 207/208AD when the Rome mint ceased production of sestertii in all but small quantities, perhaps for special celebrations. Some types are only known by a handful or even a single specimen. The provinces supplied the bronze coins for the empire. In fact, despite searching for a number of years for sestertii from this era I have only a single sestertii of Septimius Severus, the Di Patrii type.


Summer of 285 AD. Viminacium in Moesia. Two armies face to face Diocletian and Carinus will fight on the banks of the river Margus for victory and domination of the Roman world. We all know the issue of this battle, but what do we know about the city where it took place ?

The city, Viminacium, has grown in importance under the reign of Vespasian, and was under an intense activity during the Dacic wars of Trajan (101-107 AD). Then during the second century, it became a provincial capital before finding itself at the forefront of the Danubian limes from the Marcomanic wars and the great invasions of the 3rd century. Viminacium, the capital of Lower Moesia then of Moesia Superior in the 4th century, had been the cantonment of the 7th Legio Claudia Pia Fidelis, this from the 1st century AD. The city was elevated to the rank of colony under Gordian III in 239 AD and a coinage of Latin language was struck there until 255. For sixteen.

The Find of the Century

I have all of the necessary documentation from records on file in Washington DC to more than move what this bill really is.

First, it it a (CSA) Confederate States of America $100.00 dollar Note. Hand issued on October 12th, 1862. It was printed by J. T. Paterson in Columbia, S.C.. The plate letters are Ac and the serial number is 59,000 which is hand written in red ink on the left and right sides of the front of the note.

The printing on the note is dark, all details are visible and has strong signatures. The paper is crisp with a light folder to and has one crease but they do not readily stand out. Three sides the note is fully framed wall it is cut tight at the top right margin.

There are a couple small pinholes but the note has no tears, no ink corrosion and no other major conditions.

On the backside there is a unique endorsement and date from civilian purveyor, William G. Hoge. He worked in Macon, Georgia during the Civil War selling supplies to the confederacy. This.

Liberia Triple Fake - A Franklin Mint Mystery In Plain Sight

John III "The Merciful" - Emperor, Saint, Restorer, Statesman, General - Trimetallic Examples

John III Vatazes -- emperor, Christian Saint, restorer of Byzantium and general wellbeing through out Anatolia and Greece, distinguished intellectual and statesman, successful soldier and general -- possesses a rare combination of talent and charisma seen in few humans across history. Such capable individuals shape and define the world around them, impacting people for hundreds of thousands of years to come. If the great man theory isn't true, then people such as this do all they can to disprove it..

The History:
Born into a humble family in the early 1190's (comparatively so. this was the era of powerful magnate families: Comnenus, Doucas, Phocas, Angelus, Lascaris, Palaeologous, Kantakouzenos), John's father saw rapid promotion under the Byzantine emperor Isaac Angelos. Not much is known of John's childhood, however, and he first pops up on the historical radar in 1204. After the Venetians sacked Constantinople.

A Pair from Paleaopolis in Pisidia

This city in western Pisidia is not well-known. Hill, citing an article in The American Journal of Archaeology, states its ruins are thought to be those at Ak Euren in the open plains of the Lysis valley in Turkey, between Olbasa and Lysinia,[1] and is so placed on David Sear's map of the coin issuing cities of the region.[2]

Researching the city has proven difficult. A Google search for "Palaeopolis Pisidia" yields nothing outside of the numismatic literature. Similarly, a Google search for "Ak Euren Turkey" yields only 19th and early 20th century literature, and I can only assume that its name was changed -- as were so many place names in Turkey -- after the Turkish War of Independence (1919-1923). I would love to know more about the ruins and whether any archaeological work has been done there in recent years.

The city issued coins from the early.

A Brief Look at the Coinage of Postumus

Compared to the debased & wretched looking coinage of the emperor Gallienus, the coinage of Postumus is a joy to look at. His coinage like that of Gallienus, is plentiful & handsome looking double denarii are not that expensive. No denarii or bronze as coinage was struck during his reign, but he did strike gold aurei, billon double denarii (antoniniani) bronze sestertii, & double sestertii. Pictured below are examples of some his coinage.

Romano-Gallic Empire, Marcus Cassianius Latinius Postumus, AD 260-269, Treveri Mint (Trier, Germany), 3rd emission, AD 261. AE Sestertius: 32 mm, 25.5 gm, 6 h. Obverse: Laurate, cuirassed, & draped bust facing right, IMP C POSTVMVS P F AVG. Reverse: Victory striding left while holding a wreath & palm branch in her other hand. A captive is seated on the ground, VICTORIA AVG. RIC V 170. Al Kowsky Collection.

Postumus, AD 260-269 (struck AD 261), Treveri Mint. AE Double.

The underrated US Half Cent.

Does no one like half cents? I ask this only because, given their relatively tiny mintages and pretty obvious rarity, good examples don't seem particularly difficult to find. The Red Book has said that "all half cents are scarce" for years, but does anybody care? It doesn't seem to really impact their value immensely.

I have begun reading Bill Eckberg's fantastic book The Half Cent, 1793-1857: The Story of America's Greatest Little Coin and have found myself far more interested in the half cents that I already have around. None of the examples shown below broke the bank (depending on one's budget, of course), but when I looked at the mintages and the number of estimated survivors from Eckberg's book, I became stunned that these little things with the fractured denomination have not caught on more. Maybe they have but with a relatively small group of collectors?

Whatever the case, I'm starting to become slightly obsessed with them, though I highly doubt that I will ever.

Armenia and Levon I, King of the Mountain

Silver Tram - King Levon I (Leo, Leon or Lewan)
Mint - Sis

Born: AD 1150 (est)
Lord of Cilicia: AD 1187-1198
King of Armenian Cilicia: AD 1199-1219

Obverse: Seated Crowned Figure Holding Cross and Fluer-de-lis - Text: "Levon King of the Armenians"

Reverse: Cross Between Two Lions Rampant - Text: "By the Will of God"

This is a silver tram of Levon I, the tenth Roupenian (Rubinid) prince of Cilician Armenia and its first king. He is variously referred to as Leo II, Leon II, Lewan, Levon II as a prince, Levon I as King. He is also often referred to as "Lord of the Mountains" or "Levon the Magnificent".

Maximinus Thrax

Maximinus Thrax is one of those emperors, who, despite of a rather short reign of 3 years (235-238) left us with large quantities of high quality coins. Nevertheless, I have only four denari of Maximinus Thrax in my collection. The last one of which I bought just recently, to complete the series of different bust styles.

Maximinus Thrax is particularly interesting to me. I am from northern Germany and Maximinus Thrax appears to have been the last emperor to make it to my home region, where he fought the fabled battle in the bog (proelium in palude) in which he is said to have personally distinguished himself. There is a lot of controversy regarding the significance and size of this battle. Some think that it was little more than a skirmish, with farmers who tried to defend their homes and families against pillaging Roman troops. Indeed, the whole campaign was a retaliation for a large scale Germanic attack on the Limes in the years 231 to 234, in which numerous Roman.

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Frequently Asked numismatic Questions

Below you will find links to subject areas containing answers to many commonly asked numismatic questions that we receive on a regular basis. If you have a question that does not appear in one of the subject areas below or for more information about the American Numismatic Association, please contact us at [email protected] or call (800) 367-9723. Our museum and library staff will be happy to assist you as you discover and explore the world of money.

Depending upon the extent of the research necessary to answer individual questions, a research fee may be required. If a fee is required, our staff will provide you with a cost estimate before conducting research on your behalf.

In 1943, for one year only, the Mint made cents from steel with a zinc coating. The purpose for this change from previously minted copper cents was to save the copper for use in artillery shells during World War II. Because 1943 cents have a different color, many people believe they were made in error or are very rare. In fact, over 1 billion 1943 cents were minted. Values for this coin, as with all coins, depends on condition. Circulated 1943 cents have a very modest value.

As a non-profit, educational institution, the ANA is not part of the market. That is, we do not buy, sell, or arrange the sale of numismatic items. Therefore, we are unable to determine the actual “value” of your item. Collector or numismatic value is largely based on rarity and condition, as well as market factors of supply and demand. Rarity is established by the production numbers/mintage of an item. The market is determined by the number of collectors wanting to own an item versus the number that exist. Condition refers to the physical state of the item. Due to the large numbers of coins and paper money produced globally since the 20th century, most circulating legal tender produced during that era will hold only a nominal collector's value over the face value amount.

An exact value can only be established by a careful physical examination of the item by an experienced numismatist. We suggest you take your items to an ANA member coin dealer in your local area for an evaluation. You will find a listing of dealers listed by state or country on the ANA website under “Find A Dealer.” Please note, ANA-member dealers are bound by our "Code of Ethics."

After many revisions, the Great Seal became the national emblem in 1782. The back of the current U.S. $1 Federal Reserve Note displays images found on both sides of the seal.

The obverse of the seal is found on the right side of the note and was designed by Charles Thomson. A bald eagle holds an olive branch with 13 leaves in one talon and arrows (the traditional American Indian symbol of war) in the other. The eagle is facing the olive branch to signify that peace is preferable to war. Written on the ribbon above the eagle's head is the national motto in Latin "E PLURIBUS UNUM," meaning "one from many" or one country composed of 13 states. The 13 stars, leaves, letters and stripes denote the 13 original states or the Continental Congress.

The reverse of the seal, located on the left, was submitted by William Barton and displays a pyramid, a symbol of strength and permanence, however the structure was left incomplete, just as the United States continues to grow and build. The eye in the triangle overlooking the pyramid suggests the "all-seeing Deity" emphasizing spiritual welfare, while also recognizing education and freedom of knowledge. The Latin phrase "ANNUIT COEPTIS" translates "He (God) has smiled on our undertakings." The mottos have 13 letters, and there are 13 steps on the pyramid. "NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM" means "A new order of the ages." The date at the base, 1776, refers to signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

Silver Certificates were legal-tender issue notes authorized by the Acts of February 28, 1878, and August 4, 1886, and have been issued in all denominations up to $5,000. Many of the early "Large Size" issues featured beautiful, ornate engravings. The later "Small Size" notes resemble Federal Reserve Notes but bear blue seals, and feature the wording "Silver Certificate" on the face. Silver Certificates were last issued in 1957.

While these notes were legal tender for debts, public and private, they were once exchangeable for silver. In 1967, in an attempt to pull the notes out of circulation and replace them with Federal Reserve Notes, the U.S. Treasury offered the public an exchange rate of $1 to .77 oz. of silver. The redemption period ended June 24, 1968. In all, $150 million in notes were exchanged, leaving approximately $240 million in notes still outstanding and in circulation.

Silver Certificates are still valid forms of legal tender, however some may carry numismatic value as well. Early "Large Size" notes are particularly sought after, and depending on condition, can command high numismatic values. Later "Small Size" issues in crisp, uncirculated condition may also hold a premium over face value. However, notes that have been in circulation and are folded and/or torn will probably carry only legal-tender value.

"E Pluribus Unum" is a Latin term that means "Out of Many, One." The motto first appeared on some post-colonial New Jersey coinage issues in 1786, but didn’t show up on federal coinage until 1795, on the half-eagle gold coin. An Act of February 12, 1873 made the motto a requirement of law for coins minted in the U.S. thereafter.

Although it has been advertised extensively as the "Golden Dollar," the new U.S. Sacagawea dollar coin, first issued in 2000, is struck from the same basic composition as the Susan B. Anthony dollar. To lend the same electromagnetic profile for use in vending machines, outer layers of copper and nickel are bonded to a core of pure copper. However, manganese was added to the outside mix to lend the golden hue. Mint officials recognized right away that the coins would tarnish quite quickly, however since the toning would only darken and further emphasize the color difference between the dollar and the quarter, this was not considered a detriment since the Susan B. Anthony dollar did not succeed due to its similarity to the quarter.

You will find further information on the Sacagawea dollar on the U.S. Mint website.

All coins issued by the U.S. Mint are considered legal tender despite their age, and should still be honored at their face value in commercial channels. However, many former issues of U.S. coins are considered collectible, and some are worth even more due to their precious metal content. As such, it would be considered unwise to use some older coins in commerce today. (You could use a $10 gold coin to buy your value meal if you chose to do so, but don’t be surprised at the looks you’ll get from the people in the drive-thru window!)

This is employed as a security measure, done to thwart counterfeiting. Its use is solely at the discretion of each country and many different features have been utilized over time. For hundreds of years, it was known that dishonest people might chip or chisel bits of gold and silver from the edges of coins before spending them, in order to keep some of the precious metal for themselves. Eventually, some of these “chiselers” were caught, so governments started adding designs with artwork that covered the entire surface of a coin, reaching all the way to the edges (i.e., English “Long Cross” pennies.) As time went on, many coins were manufactured with designs actually placed on the edges—a practice that continues to this day, all around the world.

We have been using many different items to exchange goods and services for at least the last 8,000 years. The seafaring Phoenicians first spread this concept of trade greatly throughout the Mediterranean region over 3,000 years ago. The Lydian people of Asia Minor are generally credited with creating the first standardized monetary system, using lumps of electrum (a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver) as early as the 7th Century B.C. “Money” as we know it was primarily invented from our need to simplify commerce over time as our civilizations and societies became more complex.

The ANA was established in 1891. It is the hobby’s oldest and largest money collector organization in the world, and continually serves the needs of its members every day. We sincerely believe that membership in the ANA is one of the best investments any money collector can make, based on several factors.

The Numismatist. The hobby's premier journal is included with your membership. Each monthly issue includes three or four feature articles, association news and columns by some of the hobbies foremost authorities. Advertising is accepted only from member dealers who support the ANA's code of ethics.

Library . ANA Members can "borrow the book before they buy the coin" from the Dwight N. Manley Numismatic Library. Over 50,000 books, auction catalogs, videos and slide sets in the world’s largest numismatic lending library are available to members, just for the price of postage. Individualized in-depth research services are also available.

Money Museum . The Edward C. Rochette Money Museum is open five days a week. Members are allowed to visit the museum free of charge. We have three galleries: Permanent gallery downstairs about the history of money, as well as our mini-mint and Kids Zone sections. Every third Saturday of the month is FREE for non-members. Third Saturdays also include mini-mint presentations, where visitors can receive a free token struck from actual, working die presses. Kids can participate in monthly activities on these Saturdays as well courses that teach youngsters ages 4-12 about several different aspects of numismatics.

Educational Opportunities. From our famous Summer Seminar to our traveling grading seminars, to our home-study courses, and Money Talks presentations at ANA conventions, the ANA provides the knowledge you need to collect with confidence.

Consumer Alert Resources (C.A.R.E.). Arming members with consumer protection resources, fraud alerts and mediation services, ANA's C.A.R.E. program is truly a benefit. Our loss alert/reward program will pay up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of persons committing crimes against ANA members. Through our mediation services we assist members in resolving disputes arising from unsatisfactory coin transactions. ANA members and dealers must abide by the ANA Code of Ethics .

Collection and Health Insurance. Members can insure their entire collection at low group rates. Other group insurance plans include: Catastrophic Major Medical, Term Life, Long Term Care, Major Medical, Short Term Major Medical, Accidental Death & Dismemberment, and Hospital Indemnity & Cancer.

Direct Submissions to Numismatic Conservation Services( NCS ) - NCS is the conservation service of choice of the ANA. Active ANA members may submit coins for conservation directly to NCS.

Direct Submissions to Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) - NGC is the Official Grading Service of the ANA. Active ANA members may submit coins for grading directly to NGC.

ANA Club listings can put you in touch with local, regional and specialty clubs that provide the personal support and camaraderie that makes collecting such a rewarding hobby.

ANA Dealer Directory provides member dealers with free listings for their numismatic businesses.

Young Numismatist Programs developed especially for the beginning collector. The Ancient Coin Project allows YNs to earn ancient coins. The Early American Copper Coin Project provides YN’s opportunities to learn about and earn early United States half and large cents. The Coins For A’s program rewards youngsters for high marks earned on report cards (home-schoolers may also participate in this program! Please contact the Education Department for details.) The YN auction allows young collectors to buy coins using "money" earned by participating in the hobby. Scholarships to the Summer Seminar conference are just one the many awards YNs can receive by being involved in numismatics.

The ANA welcomes numismatists of all ages, beginner and expert alike. Join the members who are already taking advantage of the ANA programs and services to become more knowledgeable and confident collectors!

Interestingly enough, there is no such thing as a “certified” numismatist. Many people think certain credentials are required to work in the numismatic hobby/industry, especially when it comes to working for a third party coin grading and authentication service (aka, a TPG). The main requirement to get a job in this field is primarily knowing the right person/people, as it is with most any other career. It would be advisable to show your skills and experience to others, and in time, word of mouth will likely circulate amongst prominent collectors and dealers–this can definitely work for you, but it could definitely work against you if your skills aren’t as sharp as you think they are. Many dealers and/or people who work for a TPG have been involved in the hobby in some ways for decades. In fact, many YNs (Young Numismatists) get their start by interning for a TPG or in a coin shop (your skills and years of experience would definitely be key factors regarding your chances of getting a job at a TPG).

The closest anyone could become to being a “certified” numismatist is by enrolling and successfully completing the Numismatic Diploma Program through the ANA’s correspondence courses and/or attending Summer Seminar (we highly recommended taking any coin or paper money grading classes in person, rather than through correspondence whenever possible). Upon completion of the required coursework, you will be awarded a Numismatic Scholar diploma. We offer these courses to enhance your collecting experience, and though you will likely learn many skills crucial to being a successful numismatist, it still does not equate to any type of accredited certification, and does not certify you as a “Numismatist" in any way. You can learn more about our educational offerings by clicking on the following link: of-numismatics

Women have appeared on U.S. coinage as an allegory of “Liberty” since the early days of the U.S. Mint. Susan B. Anthony, Helen Keller (Alabama Quarter) and Sacagawea are the “actual” women who have appeared on U.S. circulating coinage. However, Queen Isabella of Spain, Eleanor and Virginia Dare, Dolley Madison and Eunice Kennedy Shriver are immortalized on U.S. commemorative coins. Additionally, the Mint is producing $10 gold coins as part of the "First Spouse" series, begun in 2007.

The U.S. Mint produced the "Liberty Head Type" nickel, designed by Charles E. Barber, from 1883 to 1912. In 1913 the nickel design was changed to James E. Fraser's Indian Head obverse with a Buffalo reverse. However, some time near the end of the production run in 1912, five coins bearing the Liberty Head design, but with a date of 1913, were produced. Over the next four decades, the nickels were purchased and sold several times over, either individually or as a set. Currently, specimens change hands for a minimum price of $3-5 million, and a distinct buzz is felt within the numismatic community any time one of these ultra-rarities crosses the auction block. Counterfeits and altered nickels bearing the date 1913 are abundant. Professional authentication is highly recommended for any Liberty Head nickel dated 1913.

More than likely, your Buffalo nickel had a date but the date has worn away through circulation. The date on a Buffalo nickel is located on the front (obverse) of the coin on the shoulder of the Indian. Because the date is on a high point of the design, it easily wears away. A "dateless" nickel still retains its face value and there are even some companies who will purchase them for a very modest premium. If you have nickels without a date, you may consider giving them to children. Many youngsters have started collecting coins after receiving a Buffalo nickel. Some people even use them as pocket change today, yet again proving why it is a great idea to inspect your change before spending it!

Over 150 years ago, a half cent could actually buy real objects. But as time went on, prices for goods and services grew higher, so the half cent couldn’t buy as much as it used to (a.k.a. inflation). Even the British utilized Farthings until the mid-20th century—and farthings were worth only ¼ of an English penny! As a nation’s economy changes, so too will their monetary denominations.

This coin was not too popular when it was first issued because of its similar size to the quarter-dollar. It was only produced for a few years, from 1979 to 1981, and once more in 1999. Some people were upset about making 75-cent mistakes when they didn’t look closely enough at their change. This was an overriding factor that led to a composition change in 2000, with the introduction of the “Golden Dollar” coins. The size of the golden dollar is the same as the Anthony dollar, but with a much more noticeable color difference to alleviate confusion.

Furthermore, the S.B.A. dollar could have been made in the same size as the standard dollar coins of the past, including the more recent Eisenhower Dollar, minted from 1971-1978. However, larger sized U.S. coins had fallen out of public favor by this time, and Mint officials felt a smaller sized dollar coin would have been met with better public opinion. Apparently, even the golden dollars aren’t too popular as circulating legal tender either—for the time being.

Not really—The Coinage Act of 1792 states that U.S. coins had to "conform to several standards and weights, with designs emblematic of Liberty, with an eagle on the reverse of ALL gold and silver coins." No mention is made of “shapes” in the Act. Some $50 gold pieces issued to commemorate the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco are the only U.S. issue produced with a non-round (octagonal) shape.

The U.S. Mint has never intentionally issued a holed, circulating coin. There have been several pattern coins suggested for use in the 19th century, but to date, no U.S. holey coins have ever realized a full production run. In 1792, the Mint created their first bi-metallic coin—a copper cent with a silver center, but only 14 of these ultra-rarities are known today. The only other U.S. bi-metallic coin issued was the Library of Congress Bicentennial Commemorative ten dollar coin in 2000. It consists of a gold ring surrounding a platinum center.

Many people believe counterfeit coins to be only a recent phenomenon. Actually, counterfeit coins have been around almost as long as coins themselves. Many copies of Continental Currency have been made. Most copies were not produced to deceive, but were created as a souvenir to remind people of our colonial history. Many souvenir coins have the word “copy” engraved on the coin in an inconspicuous place. If you believe your coin to be authentic, take the coin to your local ANA affiliated dealer. They should be able to authenticate the coin for you.

While it is impossible to look in to the future and determine the value of coins, a colorized U.S. coin is considered altered and therefore has little numismatic interest. The coin may prove valuable as a keepsake but will most likely have little collectible interest above its face value.

As with colorized coins, the same can also be said with regard to value for coins that have been plated with other metals like gold or platinum. These plated coins contain only a minimal amount of precious metal a few micrograms at best, and cannot be extracted without damaging the coin further. Plating is also considered an alteration and actually detracts from the overall collectability and value of a coin treated in this manner.

In 2003, the U.S. Mint began using machines into which error coins were fed during the quality control process. The machines create a distorted or "waffled" surface on the coins. This was done to prevent numismatists who specialize in error coins from acquiring scarce mistakes, which can sometimes bring spectacular prices if deemed rare enough. Waffled coins are sold as scrap metal to some recycling companies, and even these intentionally damaged pieces often make their way into the numismatic marketplace. While it is legal to own a waffled coin, the intent behind the process was to prevent people from profiting from the Mint’s mistakes.

Although world mint facilities, including the U.S. Mint adhere to strict quality control standards, errors in coin production do occur from time to time. Many non-collectors or novice numismatists may be led to believe many of these odd-looking pieces are worth huge multiples above the value of a normal specimen, yet this is rarely the case. Values are based on the rarity and severity of the error, as well as the denomination.

It is best to take any questionable coins to an ANA affiliated dealer. The dealer will first determine whether the coin is a true error or a coin that had been altered after entering circulation. If the dealer determines the coin to be a legitimate error, they can often provide guidance as to its value. A list of ANA approved dealers who specialize in this field can be found in our Dealer Directory.

1/2c, 2c, 3c, 20c and for gold, $1, $2.50, $3, $5, $10 and $20. (At one point in the 1800s there were patterns designed for a “Half Union” coin, or $50 gold piece, but this never realized actual production or use in commerce.)

The five-cent piece in the U.S. was initially referred to as a “Half Dime” and was minted in silver. However, due to monetary issues surrounding the Civil War, the five-cent piece’s composition was changed to copper-nickel starting in 1866. Oddly enough, most Americans today refer to the five-cent piece as a “nickel,” when in fact they only contain 25% of the element nickel (they are 75% copper)! Nickel was first used in U.S. coinage alloys in the 1850s, when the one-cent piece’s size and composition was overhauled. One-cent pieces from 1857-1864 were commonly referred to as “nicks.” In 1864, the one-cent piece was changed to a bronze alloy, allowing for the American five-cent piece to enjoy the moniker, “nickel” all on its own.

A numismatist [noo-MIZ-muh-tist] is one who studies money in any of its forms. Numismatists often specialize in certain areas of numismatics such as coins, medals and tokens, or paper currency. There are no prerequisites to becoming a numismatist, other than a yearning for knowledge of anything to do with money in any form.

Researching the items yourself is a great way to learn more about your collection. Most likely you will not be able to determine an exact value but by using the sources referenced in Question 1, you should be able to establish a retail value range for the collection.

If you need an exact figure, or the collection is overwhelming, it is best to use the services of a professional numismatist. Once a dealer has been located, you should call the dealer and set an appointment so that the dealer can expect you and have time reserved just for you. Please indicate to the dealer the size of the collection to be appraised. Most dealers will charge for the appraisal so it is best to establish the fee beforehand. Plan to stay while the dealer is performing the appraisal.

If you believe your collection to be particularly valuable, you may wish to have your collection appraised by more than one dealer. If you have trouble locating a dealer, refer to our Dealer Directory for assistance.

It is best to store coins individually in containers designed to limit exposure to detrimental elements as much as possible. These supplies for long-term storage, such as acid-free envelopes or PVC-free mylar "flips," are available for purchase through your local ANA member dealer. Paper money should be stored in PVC-free, mylar sleeves. A dry environment in a fairly constant temperature is important for long-term storage of your numismatic items. If you store your collection in a safe-deposit box, check on your collection every few months to make sure no problems are developing.

There are many copies of Confederate and Colonial currency in existence. Notes that are printed on thick brown parchment are not authentic and were created as souvenirs. One way to check the authenticity of your Confederate or Colonial currency is to check the serial numbers. "Bogus or Facsimile" is a website that can help.

Becoming a member of your local coin club is a great way to find reputable people and dealers. You can access the American Numismatic Association’s Dealer Directory and Club Directory to view current listings. All of the dealers listed in our directory are members in good standing and are bound by a code of ethics. Local pawn shops, television promoters and flea market dealers are not necessarily dishonest, yet they are not held to as high of a standard as our member dealers. It is advised to exercise caution and due diligence before transacting business with anyone caveat emptor!

It would be an exceptionally long list to include everything humans have ever utilized as a medium of exchange over time! The best items were objects that held some value, either in their utility or potential. The primary criteria for determining what items may best be used to exchange goods and services would be anything in demand that is portable, divisible, useful and durable. Some of these items include animals and their byproducts, salt, foodstuffs, precious stones and metals, and even people. The Charles Opitz book, "An Ethnographic Study of Traditional Money," is one of the most comprehensive works on the subject of odd & curious items used as money by humans across the globe.

In theory, an uncirculated coin is a coin that has never been used in commerce. A more practical definition of an uncirculated coin is a coin that shows absolutely no trace of wear and is in the same condition as when it left the Mint. Due to the minting and transportation processes, an uncirculated coin may exhibit flaws such as nicks or scratches as it encounters similar coins in a Mint bag.

Mintmarks are letters that indicate where a coin was made. They have been used for over 2,000 years by various nations and empires as a quality control measure. In ancient times, if a coin did not meet the specifications set by the government, the moneyer who issued the coin could be held accountable.

Currently there are four active government Mints in the United States. Not all operating mints create regular coins for circulation, often referred to as “business strikes.” Currently, the San Francisco and West Point Mints only manufacture coins for collectors. Philadelphia and Denver manufacture coins designed to be used in commerce, but they also produce annual sets for collectors, commonly referred to as “Mint Sets.”

Older coins may have mintmarks from Mints no longer in operation. All Mints do not produce the same number of coins. A small production number from a particular Mint can result in a coin of greater value and collectability, but this is not always the case.

Current U.S. Mints and mintmarks :

(P) Philadelphia, 1793 to date

(D) Denver, 1906 to date

(S) San Francisco, 1854 to date

(W) West Point, 1984 to date

(Fort Knox, Kentucky is the United States Bullion Depository, not an active mint 1936 to date.)

(C) Charlotte, North Carolina, 1838-1861 (gold coins only)

(CC) Carson City, Nevada, 1870 to 1893

(D) Dahlonega, Georgia, 1838-1861 (gold coins only)

(O) New Orleans, Louisiana, 1838-1909

Although world mint facilities, including the U.S. Mint, adhere to strict quality control standards, errors in coin production do occur from time to time. Many non-collectors or novice numismatists may be led to believe many of these odd-looking pieces are worth huge multiples above the value of a normal specimen, yet this is rarely the case. Values are based on the rarity and severity of the error, as well as the denomination. It is best to take any questionable coins to an ANA affiliated dealer. The dealer will first determine whether the coin is a true error or a coin that had been altered after entering circulation. If the dealer determines the coin to be a legitimate error, they can often provide guidance as to its value. A list of ANA approved dealers who specialize in this field can be found in our Dealer Directory.

In most instances, a two-headed coin is a fantasy piece. Two coins have been altered to produce one coin. Usually these coins are sold as novelty items or as magician's tools. As an altered piece, the coin holds no legal tender or numismatic value. Examples of legitimate error two-headed coins have been discovered, albeit exceptionally rare. Based on the minting process and strict quality control measures, this is a near impossibility with U.S. coinage. If you are unsure as to the authenticity of your coin, consider taking your coin to an ANA affiliated dealer.

Yes, since so much of the value of a coin is determined by condition, any coin that has been altered for use as jewelry will have a significantly reduced value. Only the rarest of coins in this condition are still considered collectible.

Money is a representation of material, political and religious culture. Through the study of the coins and paper money of any particular era, one can determine what was important to the people and government at that time. The independent thought of Revolutionary America is glaringly evident in the legends featured on the Fugio cent and Continental Currency piece. Since the portraits used on coinage often denote a reliable and recognizable picture of the rulers, we know that Cleopatra VII bore no resemblance to Elizabeth Taylor and was in fact quite unattractive.

Items used as units of exchange have existed for all time. However, the first items that we would recognize today as coins came from the kingdom of Lydia, approximately 650 B.C. We also know that paper money was used by the Kao-Tsung dynasty, A.D. 650 to 683. If you are interested in a particular subject area, we suggest you visit your local library, where you will find specific information on the cultural associations of your coins, tokens, medals or paper currency.

The term "proof" is often mistakenly used to describe the condition of a coin. The correct use of the term describes a method of manufacture. Proof coins are made from specially prepared planchets and dies that are struck at least twice. The end product is a coin with a highly mirrored field and frosted detail. Proof coins are produced for, and generally sold to collectors. Even though proof coins are legal tender, the Mint sells them at a premium so they are rarely found in circulation.

PVC stands for Poly-Vinyl Chloride. PVC is added to plastic coin "flips" to make them softer and less likely to scratch a coin. PVC usually emits an odor similar to a brand new shower curtain liner. Unfortunately, when exposed to heat and light over time, the PVC can break down and release hydrochloric acid, which appears as a greenish slime enveloping your coin. This slime can potentially cause irreparable damage to the surfaces of an object. Always use PVC-free, mylar holders for long-term storage, especially if you live in an area with intense heat and humidity.

Most holders come in packages which have labels that indicate if they are PVC free. If in doubt, ask a professional. Plastic "flips" that contain PVC have a blue tint and are softer and more pliable than plastic holders that do not contain PVC. Products like “Saflips” are made of mylar. These non-plasticized, mylar flips will not leach chemicals onto the surfaces of your items. However, they are not as soft as PVC, so care must be used when inserting and removing coins from mylar products to reduce the possibility of scratching a coin’s surfaces.

While mediums of exchange have existed for all time, the first coins, as we know them, were struck under King Ardys, (652-615 B.C.) ruler of Lydia located in modern-day Turkey. The coins were struck from electrum, a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver that was found in quantity in the mountains and streams of the country. The obverse design was incuse, or sunk into the coin, and the reverse was left blank.

King Croesus of Lydia (561-456 B.C.) produced "standardized" gold coinage bearing an obverse design of the royal symbol of two facing lions and a bull on the reverse. Surprisingly, the coins of Croesus were of 98% pure gold, an amazing feat given the primitive means available to process precious metal at the time.

Ptolemy I (323-285B.C.) of Egypt was the first ruler to place his own image on the coins issued under his authority, a practice that continues to present day.

Following is a listing of the portraits appearing on 20th century Federal Reserve Notes (FRN). Please note, not all men honored have held the office of U.S. President.

$1 - George Washington
$2 - Thomas Jefferson
$5 - Abraham Lincoln
$10 - Alexander Hamilton
$20 - Andrew Jackson
$50 - Ulysses S. Grant
$100 - Benjamin Franklin
$500 - William McKinley
$1,000 - Grover Cleveland
$5,000 - James Madison
$10,000 - Salmon P. Chase
$100,000 - Woodrow Wilson (This gold certificate was produced for transactions between Federal Reserve districts and did not circulate.)

To date, only four "real" women have been featured on circulating U.S. notes and coins. All others have been fictional representations of "Liberty." Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea have been honored on coins. A portrait of Martha Washington graced the series 1886 and 1891 $1.00 Silver Certificates. The first, First Lady was also featured, along with her husband George, on the series 1896 $1 Silver Certificate. This bill is part of a group of notes that are often referred to as the "Educational Series." These early, large size notes display beautiful engravings and are highly sought after by collectors.

The U.S. Series 1869-1878 $10.00 notes featured an engraving of the painting Introduction of the Old World to the New World, or Pocahontas Presented at Court by T.A. Liebler.

Historically the U.S. Treasury has issued many different types of notes. These notes bear numbers and seals in a variety of different colors that are distinctive to the type of note. The most common note in circulation today, and the one that we are used to seeing, is the Federal Reserve note bearing a green seal and numbers. Following is a listing of the note types and seal colors:

Silver Certificates—blue seal
United States Notes—red seal
National Bank Notes—brown seal
Gold Certificates—yellow/orange seal

Some early notes in crisp, uncirculated condition may hold a numismatic value over the legal-tender amount. You may want to take your notes to a local ANA member dealer for evaluation.

Several changes have been made to U.S. paper money in recent years. The changes have been implemented during the redesign of denominations of U.S. Federal Reserve notes (with the exception of the $1) beginning with the $100. Several features have been added to protect our money from counterfeiting including:

  1. An enlarged portrait placed off-center to accommodate a watermark, visible when the note is held up to a light.
  2. A polymer security thread embedded vertically in the paper. The location of the thread varies depending on the denomination.
  3. Fine line printing patterns behind the back illustration.
  4. Microprinting on different areas of the notes.
  5. Color-shifting ink that appears black when the front is viewed at an angle.
  6. A low-vision feature on the back lower right corner for easier identification of the denomination.
  7. New Federal Reserve indicators including a universal seal and a letter and number below the serial number identifying the issuing Federal Reserve Bank.
  8. A unique combination of eleven numbers and letters that appear twice on the front of all notes.

The U.S. note that you describe is a WWII emergency issue. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, the U.S. Government issued specially marked notes for circulation only in Hawaii as an economic defense measure in case of an invasion. After August 15, 1942, it was illegal to hold any other currency on the islands without a special license. If the feared invasion did occur, the government could easily declare the specially marked money valueless.

Some specimens of the "Hawaii" overprint in crisp, uncirculated condition may hold numismatic value over the legal-tender amount. To be certain, take your notes to a local ANA member dealer for evaluation.

At one time, it was speculated that the notes signed by Treasurer Joseph W. Barr would eventually hold a high numismatic value since he was in office for only 23 days in 1968-69. However, during that period, a total of 484 million notes were produced with his signature. The high quantity produced dictates that the notes will never be considered rare in our lifetime.

Interestingly, in 1995, numismatic author Alan Herbert stated, "A $1 Barr note deposited in an interest-bearing account in 1969 would have been worth over $4.00, figuring 6% interest compounded annually. A circulated Barr note kept in a safe-deposit box for 26 years is worth $1 today."

The star note, or replacement note, displays a star as a suffix on Federal Reserve notes. A star is used to replace defective notes found during the inspection process at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Since the highest number that can be printed by an eight-digit numbering cylinder is 99,999,999, a star has been used to denote the 100,000,000th note off the press.

Historically, star notes hold a value slightly higher than the legal-tender value, with the amount dependent on condition and denomination. Replacement notes are usually listed as a variety in published valuation guides.

A misprinted note is known in numismatics as an error note, or simply a mistake that occurs during the printing process at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP). With the stringent quality controls practiced by the BEP, the chances of error notes reaching the public are really quite slim, but it does happen. Oftentimes these notes have numismatic value above the legal tender-value. The amount generally depends on the denomination, the complexity of the error and the condition of the note. The more dramatic the error is, the more valuable the note often is.

You will find further information on U.S. notes on the websites of the United States Treasury or the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

Just because an item seems rare in the United States, this does not mean that it holds numismatic value above the legal-tender amount in the issuing country. Just like U.S. coinage and currency issues, world money holds numismatic value based on rarity and condition.

You can ascertain a retail value range from the "Standard Catalog of World Coins" and the "Standard Catalog of World Paper Money," both published by Krause Publications. These sources are often found in libraries and bookstores. You may also want to consult a local ANA member dealer for evaluation.

It does seem a bit odd that a coin from an Asian country would bear a denomination that is usually attributed to Spanish countries, but there is an explanation. The Philippines were held by Spain until the end of the 19th century, when the islands were ceded to the United States after the Spanish-American War. However, the monetary system remained unchanged.

The islands were invaded by Japan during WWII. Originating from this time period we find occupation currency announcing the Japanese government, written in English, but bearing Spanish denominations. Although the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth of the United States in 1935, monetary reform did not occur until after 1965.

Such notes are inflationary currency from the Weimar Republic in Germany after WWI. Due to war reparations, this period in German history is marked by extreme economic depression and high inflation.

The high denomination of the notes is evidence of the government's efforts to combat the rampant inflation. Notes were printed in denominations of millions and even billions. While these notes no longer carry legal-tender value, since the Weimar Republic is no longer a functioning government, some hold collector value. The "Standard Catalog of World Paper Money 1901 to Present" has an excellent section detailing these issues.

Theresienstadt (Terezin), a Jewish ghetto created by the Nazis, was located in Czechoslovakia. It was built specifically as a high-profile camp for prominent Jews, WWI veterans and heroes and the wealthy. It also served as a stopover for prisoners on their way to one of the death camps in Poland. Terezin was a "model" ghetto and was designed and maintained to impress the International Red Cross. It was the only concentration camp to allow visitors. The elaborately printed notes, featuring an engraving of Moses, made the money seem quite impressive in reality, the notes were just for show and only good for library rentals.

Until the early 1970s, the notes issued from this camp were thought to be quite rare and so held a high collector value. However, in 1973, 941 complete sets were sold at auction. Also, shortly after WWII, when bulldozing the remains of the ghetto, a soldier found enough 20 Kronen notes to fill a suitcase. These notes have been distributed as well.

Since collector value is heavily based on rarity and condition, these finds caused the market values to drop dramatically. Current published listings show a collector value of approximately $10 for each note in new condition, and no premium for a full set.

The American Numismatic Association is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to educating and encouraging people to study and collect coins and related items. The ANA serves the academic community, collectors and the general public with an interest in numismatics.

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The American Numismatic Association is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to educating and encouraging people to study and collect coins and related items. The ANA serves the academic community, collectors and the general public with an interest in numismatics.


On September 26, 1890, the United States Congress passed an act providing:

The Director of the Mint shall have power, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, to cause new designs . to be prepared and adopted . But no change in the design or die of any coin shall be made oftener than once in twenty-five years from and including the year of the first adoption of the design . But the Director of the Mint shall nevertheless have power, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, to engage temporarily the services of one or more artists, distinguished in their respective departments of art, who shall be paid for such service from the contingent appropriation for the mint at Philadelphia. [1]

The Barber coinage had been introduced in 1892 dimes, quarter dollars, and half dollars with similar designs by Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber. [2] The Barber coinage, after its release, [3] attracted considerable public dissatisfaction. [4] Beginning in 1905, successive presidential administrations had attempted to bring modern, beautiful designs to United States coins. [5] Following the redesign of the double eagle, eagle, half eagle and quarter eagle in 1907 and 1908, as well as the cent and nickel redesigns of 1909 and 1913 respectively, advocates of replacing the Barber coins began to push for the change when the coins' minimum term expired in 1916. As early as 1914, Victor David Brenner, designer of the Lincoln cent, submitted unsolicited designs for the silver coins. He was told, in response, that Secretary of the Treasury William G. McAdoo was completely occupied with other matters. [6]

On January 2, 1915, an interview with Philadelphia Mint Superintendent Adam M. Joyce appeared in the Michigan Manufacturer and Financial Record:

So far as I know . there is no thought of issuing new coins of the 50-cent, 25-cent, and 10-cent values. If, however, a change is made we all hope that more serviceable and satisfactory coins are produced than the recent Saint-Gaudens double eagle and eagle and the Pratt half and quarter eagle. The buffalo nickel and the Lincoln penny are also faulty from a practical standpoint. All resulted from the desire by the government to mint coins to the satisfaction of artists and not practical coiners. [7]

In January 1915, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury William P. Malburn sent McAdoo a memorandum about the silver subsidiary coinage, noting that "the present silver half dollar, quarter, and dime were changed in 1892, and a new design may, therefore, be adopted in 1916. This can be done any time in the year." [8] In reply, McAdoo wrote "[l]et the mint submit designs before we try anyone else." on the memorandum. [9]

In April 1915, Robert W. Woolley took office as Mint Director. On April 14, he asked Superintendent Joyce to request Chief Engraver Barber, then in his 36th year in office, to prepare new designs. The same day, Malburn requested the opinion of the Treasury Department's Solicitor concerning the Mint view that it could strike new designs for the three denominations in 1916. On April 17, the Solicitor's Office responded that the Mint could change the designs. [10] At the time, the Mint was intensely busy producing the Panama-Pacific commemorative coin issue, and immediate action was not taken. [9] In October, Barber was summoned to Washington to discuss coin designs with Woolley, though it is uncertain whether or not he had already prepared sketches for the new coinage. [10]

On December 3, Woolley met with the Commission of Fine Arts. Woolley asked the Commission to view sketches produced by the Mint's engraving department. Barber was present to explain the coinage process to the Commission members. Woolley suggested to the members that if they did not like the Mint's work, they should select sculptors to submit designs for the new pieces. It was Woolley's intent to have distinct designs for the dime, quarter and half dollar—previously, the three pieces had been nearly identical. [11] The director informed the Commission that as the existing coinage had been in use for 25 years, it would have to be changed—something which numismatic historian David Lange calls a "misinterpretation of the coinage laws". [12]

The Commission disliked the sketches from the Mint (submitted by Barber) [13] and selected sculptors Adolph Weinman, Hermon MacNeil and Albin Polasek to submit proposals for the new coins. The sculptors could submit multiple sketches. Although the Mint could decide to use a design on a denomination not intended by its sculptor, the designs were not fully interchangeable—by statute, an eagle had to appear on the reverse of the quarter and half dollar, but could not appear on the dime. Woolley hoped that each sculptor would be successful with one piece. [14]

The three sculptors submitted design sketches in mid-February, and on February 23 met with Woolley in New York so the artists could make presentations of the work to him and answer his questions. After discussions between Woolley and McAdoo, Weinman was notified on February 28 that five of his sketches had been selected—for the dime and half dollar, and the reverse of the quarter. The same day, Woolley wrote to MacNeil to tell him he would sculpt the quarter's obverse, and to Polasek to inform him of his lack of success. [15] Members of the Commission persuaded Woolley that so much should not be entrusted to a single artist, and MacNeil was allowed to design both sides of the quarter, subject to the sculptor producing a design satisfactory to Woolley. [16]

On March 3, the new coins were publicly announced, with the Treasury noting, "[d]esigns of these coins must be changed by law every 25 years and the present 25 year period ends with 1916." [17] The press release indicated that the Treasury hoped production of the new coins would begin in about two months, once the designs were finalized. The same day, Woolley wrote to Mint Engraver Barber, telling him that his sketches were rejected, and that models from Weinman and MacNeil would arrive at the Philadelphia Mint no later than May 1. [17] According to numismatic historian Walter Breen, Barber became "sullen and totally uncooperative". [18] Lange notes that "numerous delays were encountered as the artists fine-tuned their models while simultaneously avoiding obstacles thrown in their path by Barber. While his observations regarding many aspects of practical coinage were quite accurate, they clearly could have been presented in a more constructive manner." [19] In his book on Mercury dimes, Lange notes that Barber, by then aged 75, had been "compelled over the past ten years to participate in the systematic undoing of a lifetime's achievements" he had to participate in the process which resulted in coins designed by others replacing ones designed by him. [20]

With the new pieces, all American coins would have had a recent change of design (the Morgan dollar was not then being struck). [21] According to a column in The Art World magazine later in 1916,

Since that day [the 19th century] much artistic progress has taken place in our coinage. Sculptors of reputation have been employed with admirable results . And now we are to have a new half dollar and a new dime by Weinman and a new quarter by McNeill [sic]. Altogether, in the retrospect, it seems an incredible achievement. [22]

The identity of the model for the obverse of the quarter is uncertain. As early as May 1917, the model for the depiction of Liberty was reported to be Doris Doscher, who would later become a silent film actress under the name Doris Doree. This was accepted for many years. Doscher became well known as "the girl on the quarter" she died in 1970 at age 88. In 1972, a quarter-century after MacNeil's death, newspapers reported that the actual model was Broadway actress Irene MacDowell, then aged 92 (she died the following year) whose name was said to have been concealed because her husband (one of MacNeil's tennis partners) disapproved. In an article in the December 2003 edition of The Numismatist, Timothy B. Benford Jr., suggests that the supposed deception was to fool MacNeil's wife, who saw MacDowell as a potential romantic rival. In 1982, Doscher's widower stated that despite the MacDowell claim, his wife had posed for the quarter. [23] [24]

MacNeil submitted two designs for the obverse, the one which was successful and another, showing a standing Liberty facing right, which he would later resubmit in modified form in the Peace dollar design competition of 1921, again unsuccessfully. In the rejected design, MacNeil's Liberty leans forward, an olive branch extended in her left hand, but her right hand holding the hilt of a broadsword. According to Burdette, the design was intended to send a message to the belligerents in World War I that America wanted peace, but was ready to fight. [25]

MacNeil's accepted obverse is only slightly less militaristic his Liberty faces to the viewer's right (heraldic east) in the direction of the European war, and her shield faces in that direction as well. She holds an olive branch as she strides through a gate in a wall which is inscribed, "In God We Trust", with the "U" in "Trust" shaped as a V. [26] MacNeil stated that the obverse depicted Liberty "stepping forward in . the defense of peace as her ultimate goal". [27] According to art historian Cornelius Vermeule, "Liberty is presented as the Athena of the Parthenon pediments, a powerful woman striding forward" [21] and states that, but for the Stars and Stripes on her shield, "everything else about this Amazon calls to mind Greek sculpture of the period between Pheidias to Praxiteles, 450 to 350 BC." [28]

Vermeule suggested that the flying eagle on the reverse is simply that of the 1836 Gobrecht dollar, seen flying from left to right instead of the opposite way, as on the earlier piece. He applauded the 1917 change to the reverse, feeling that it made it less cluttered. Vermeule noted that the reverse marked the beginning of the end (at least for that era) for naturalistic depictions of eagles on US coins, stating in 1970 that those after 1921 tended to present a heraldic appearance instead. [29]

In a letter to Woolley, MacNeil had promised to "try and produce something that shall be of use to you". [27] The sculptor had been awarded the reverse of the quarter only provisionally, and he prepared a series of studies for the reverse to show Woolley when he visited his studio in College Point, New York. At that time, Woolley selected a reverse similar to that eventually coined, showing an eagle in flight, wings extended and shown almost in full. Other designs which were shown to Woolley included similar eagle designs, but from different angles. [30]

The Mint's original schedule called for the designers of the three new coins to complete their models by April 15, 1916. This would allow production of the new pieces to begin about July 1. However, the Mint quickly revised the submission deadline to May 1 this proved optimistic as MacNeil did not submit his models, in the form of bronze casts, until May 18. Even so, he was faster than Weinman, who did not ship the last of his casts to the Mint until June 6. [31] Woolley formally approved the designs for the quarter by letter dated May 23, 1916. [32] Despite the delays, the Mint attempted to meet the July 1 start date. [31]

On June 21, Woolley wrote to Superintendent Joyce,

The model of the obverse on the half dollar will have to be made over and Mr. Weinman informs me he is now at work on it. The same is true of the quarter dollar. The reverse of both the quarter dollar and the half dollar, as shown on the coins struck from the polished dies, are satisfactory . Everyone to whom the coins have been shown here thinks they are beautiful. [33]

No records of Woolley's objections to the quarter's obverse are known to exist, but numismatic author Roger Burdette suggests that his major concern was that when experimental pattern coins were struck in June, the obverse was indistinct, making even brand new coins appear worn. MacNeil was given permission to do further work on his design by Woolley in late June, and in mid-August turned in a revised obverse different in detail from the original. "In God We Trust" was displayed on the sash which Liberty holds, a complex chain motif surrounded the design, and two dolphins, emblematic of the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, lay at Liberty's feet. Liberty's shield bore an eagle, rather than the Stars and Stripes. Treasury Secretary McAdoo immediately approved the design changes, acting on August 19. [34]

On July 18, Woolley wrote to a numismatic enquirer that the new quarters would begin to be struck about September 1. [31] By the time of that letter, he had resigned as Mint Director to become head of publicity for President Wilson's reelection campaign Fred H. Chaffin became acting director. On August 18, Wilson nominated Woolley's successor, Friedrich Johannes Hugo von Engelken, who was promptly confirmed by the Senate. Von Engelken was supposed to be sworn in on the 21st his swearing in was delayed until September 1 by President Wilson's failure to sign his commission. One of von Engelken's first acts as Mint Director was to inform MacNeil of McAdoo's acceptance of the design changes, telling him he could place his monogram (a small "M") on the coin it appears on the wall, to the right of the two low steps which Liberty descends. [34] The bronze casts were made by the Medallic Art Company on September 6, MacNeil wrote to von Engelken that they would shortly be shipped to the Philadelphia Mint. [34]

By this time, the Mint had experienced considerable difficulties in initiating production of both the dime and half dollar. In the hope of heading off similar problems with the quarter, Mint officials decided to reexamine MacNeil's designs, and subsequently, to adjust them. A number of pattern coins were struck, and von Engelken decided to abandon the dolphins version. By mid-October, patterns with a modified version of MacNeil's original obverse were being struck. On the reverse, the eagle was lowered in position, and a pair of olive branches framing the eagle was replaced by stars. [35] According to Burdette, by making major changes in the design without consulting the designer, Mint officials had "duplicated design versions already rejected by MacNeil, wasted government time, alienated one of the country's best sculptors, and flagrantly bastardized artistic creativity." [36]

MacNeil, who had no idea the Mint was changing his designs, requested permission to visit the Mint on October 24 to discuss the conversion of his approved models into actual coins. Chaffin (again briefly acting director in von Engelken's absence) declined to pay for his journey, and MacNeil did not come. According to Burdette, "the action saved the government less than $20 in October, but may have cost many times that amount before the revised quarter design was accepted the following year." [37] Von Engelken viewed sample coins about that time. He objected to two leaves of the olive branch on the obverse that lay within the angle of the "L" in "Liberty" and asked that they be removed this was done. The Mint Director then met with Secretary McAdoo to view coins struck from the modified dies. McAdoo felt that the figure of Liberty was indistinct, but von Engelken persuaded him that could not be changed without considerable delay. They did decide that the Mint could make the shield clearer, and approved the design with that instruction. Feeling it was impossible to make the change in time to strike coins in 1916, von Engelken instructed Joyce that beginning in 1917, the figure of Liberty should be sharpened. By the time dies were finally made, the year 1916 was almost over, and only 52,000 quarters were struck. This was done as proof that the Barber design had been replaced in the 25th year, as Mint officials believed was required. [38]

Throughout late 1916, the Mint was intensely busy first sharpening the design to be used in 1917, and then in large-scale preparation of dies to begin striking the new quarters on a massive scale once the new year began. [36] Small change was in great demand: Mint officials had hoped not to strike any Barber pieces in 1916, but eventually had to do so in large quantities to satisfy the need. [39] Once new quarters were struck, fearing the new pieces would be hoarded (especially the low-mintage 1916 coin), von Engelken instructed that no pieces be released without his order. Small quantities of the new quarters were available, however, to officials and to prominent numismatists. MacNeil, who had not heard from the Mint about his coins since the formal acceptance of his dolphin design, read in the newspaper in early January that the Mint was starting to strike his quarters. He wrote to von Engelken on January 6, enclosing a $5 money order, and was sent 20 of the new pieces. After seeing what the Mint had done to his designs, MacNeil wrote again to von Engelken, criticizing the artistic nature of the changes in such strong terms that the Mint Director continued his embargo on the coins' release. The sculptor pointed out, for example, that the lower position of the eagle made it appear about to land—with its talons in a position only assumed at great heights. Von Engelken feared that should the sculptor's objections become public and not be addressed, the Mint would be exposed to ridicule. MacNeil visited the Philadelphia Mint and its engraving department on January 10. No records of his visit are extant, but von Engelken telephoned from Washington to Philadelphia the same day to ensure that the new quarters did not leave the Mint. [36]

After receiving MacNeil's letter, von Engelken conferred with sculptor and Commission of Fine Arts member Herbert Adams, and with Commission Chairman Charles Moore. Von Engelken agreed that the design of the quarter could be modified to meet MacNeil's wishes. Although no correspondence is known to exist, it appears that the Mint Director and sculptor spoke by telephone over the next several days, as on January 17, von Engelken sent Secretary McAdoo a letter asking for discretion to allow MacNeil to modify the design. McAdoo summoned MacNeil to Washington for a meeting, and then ordered von Engelken to provide MacNeil with all the facilities and help he would need at the Philadelphia Mint—von Engelken had intended that the redesign take place at the sculptor's expense. [40] On January 17, the Mint released the first Standing Liberty quarters, dated both 1916 and 1917, into circulation. [41] On January 30, 1917, von Engelken instructed Joyce to give MacNeil full facilities, and told the Mint Superintendent, "see that Mr. Barber keeps his objections to himself while Mr. MacNeil is there". [40] George T. Morgan, who had worked under Barber for the Engraver's entire 37-year tenure, was assigned to assist MacNeil. [40]

MacNeil hoped to take what he considered to be the best elements of the two versions of the obverse which had been accepted by the Mint the previous year. The figure of Liberty would be taken from the second version all other elements would come from the first. No change was to be made to Liberty's bare right breast, but the dolphins would not regain their place. However, Morgan proved unable, given engraving technology at the time, to combine the two obverses, meaning the coin would have to be entirely redone by MacNeil. His new version, completed in mid-February, for the first time covered Liberty's breast, giving her a chain mail shirt. Burdette suggests that this change was not unusual for MacNeil, who was increasingly cladding female figures in garments which covered their breasts, as with his statue Intellectual Development, sculpted around that time, and also reflected the deterioration of the international situation in February 1917, as the United States moved towards war with Germany. [42] The reverse saw modifications to the eagle, which was raised in its position on the coin three of the thirteen stars on the reverse were placed between the bird and the words "Quarter Dollar". [43] Also a dot between the words "QUARTER DOLLAR" and between the words "UNITED STATES" was removed.

The redesign of the obverse has led to an enduring myth that the breast was covered up out of prudishness, or in response to public outcry. Breen stated that "through their Society for the Suppression of Vice, the guardians of prudery at once began exerting political pressure on the Treasury Department to revoke authorization for these 'immoral' coins". [44] Ron Guth and Jeff Garrett, in their book on US coins by type, aver that the covering up of Liberty was "a change never authorized by MacNeil". [45] Numismatic historian David Lange concedes that there is no evidence of outcry from the public, but suggests that the decision to change the coin was "more likely prompted by objections from the Treasury Department". [46] Numismatist Ray Young, in his 1979 article in Coins magazine about the quarter, suggested that the redesign "came from the symbolism. If Liberty was going to stand up to her foes, she should do so fully-protected—not 'naked to her enemies.' Thus the war probably had much more to do with the change than any alleged 'public indignation.' " [47]

Von Engelken had wanted to be president of the Federal Land Bank for the Third District. He was appointed to that post on February 8, 1917, but remained as Mint Director until February 20 his successor, Raymond T. Baker, was nominated on February 10. Work on the new quarter was briefly interrupted by the death of Chief Engraver Barber at the age of 77 on February 18. One of von Engelken's final acts in office was to recommend the appointment of Barber's successor, Morgan, who was subsequently nominated by Wilson and confirmed by the Senate. [48]

Upon taking office in February 1917, Baker familiarized himself with the redesign of the quarter. After conferring with other Treasury officials, he decided that the redesign would be in violation of the 1890 act, and would require legislation from Congress. McAdoo concurred, and wrote to Representative William A. Ashbrook (Democrat-Ohio) on April 16, 1917. Ashbrook was not only chairman of the House Committee on Coinage, Weights and Measures, he was a noted coin collector. McAdoo explained the need for the redesign, "since the original dies were made the artist has found that they are not true to the original design and that a great improvement can be made in the artistic value and appearance of the coin by making the slight changes the act contemplates". [49]

Legislation to authorize a change was debated in the Senate on April 30, 1917 Oklahoma Senator Robert L. Owen represented that the change was needed because the coins would not stack. Wyoming Senator Francis E. Warren complained that the Mint had needed legislation to adjust coin designs in the past and it would be simpler if officials would ensure that coins would stack before releasing them into circulation. Nevertheless, the bill passed. The matter was brought up in the House of Representatives on June 25, led by Congressman Ashbrook, who told his colleagues both that the issued design was not true to the artist's concept, and that the coins would not stack well. Debate in the House focused on the fact that the legislation gave the Mint until July 1918 to effect the change as Ashbrook had stated that the Mint, having prepared the new design, was only waiting for the bill to pass to commence production. One congressman offered an amendment to change the date to 1917, and others spoke in favor of that, but they desisted when they realized that making a change would require the Senate to act again. The bill passed the House, and became law on July 9, 1917. [50] In August, MacNeil wrote to Joyce requesting samples of the revised coin and expressing his pleasure it was being struck according to his design. [51]

The Standing Liberty quarter was struck at the Philadelphia Mint from 1916 to 1930 with the exception only of 1922, when no quarters were struck at any mint. It was produced less regularly at Denver and San Francisco beginning in 1917. The mint mark "D" for Denver or "S" for San Francisco may be found at the base of the wall, just to the left of Liberty's visible foot. The key date in the series is the 1916, with a mintage of 52,000. It catalogs for $3,250 even in worn Good-4 condition. The 1921 issue from Philadelphia and the 1923 from San Francisco (1923-S) are also expensive, with costs in the hundreds of dollars even for coins graded “Good-4” and “Very Good-8”. The Standing Liberty quarter is the only 20th-century regular issue US coin for which no proof coins were struck. However, a handful of specimen examples of the 1917 Type 1 issue (that is, the coins struck early in 1917 before MacNeil revised the design) exist. [52] Breen reported six known, all with exceptionally sharp central details. [53]

It had long been a practice at the Mint to recut unused dies at the end of the year to show the following year's date. During the 18th and 19th centuries, die cutting was difficult and expensive. As making dies became cheaper and easier, the practice mostly died out around the turn of the 20th century. However, a 1917-S Type 2 die, unused by the San Francisco Mint, was recut and used to strike several thousand 1918-S quarters. [54] Few are known, and the coins command prices in the low thousands even in well-circulated conditions. [55]

By late 1924, Mint officials realized there was a problem with the quarter in circulation. Quarters were returning to the Mint with the date completely worn off. Unwilling to seek another act of Congress, Mint officials made the step on which the date appears recessed into the design, rather than raised from it. This change solved the problem [56] quarters from 1925 and after are more common and cheaper in lower grades as they have survived with their dates intact. [55] This action was among the last acts of the Engraver's Department under Morgan, who died on January 4, 1925, and was succeeded by John R. Sinnock. [56] [57] [58] The modification meant that the 1927-S, with a mintage of 396,000 is much cheaper in circulated grades than the 1923-S, with a mintage of 1,360,000, though the 1927-S is more expensive in uncirculated grades. [55]

No quarters were struck in 1931 there was no call for them in commerce due to the Depression. [59] Since 1930, there had been an effort among those organizing the commemoration of the bicentennial of George Washington's 1732 birth to seek a Washington half dollar, to be struck as the regular issue for 1932. When a bill for a Washington commemorative was introduced to Congress in February 1931, it changed the quarter rather than the half dollar. While the reasons for the change were not recorded, the House Coinage Committee issued a memorandum stating that "the new design would replace the present type of quarter dollar", was on "a popular denomination" and "would replace an unsatisfactory design now being issued". [60] Congress passed the act on March 4, 1931, [60] and the new Washington quarter began to be struck in 1932, ending the Standing Liberty series. [61] Nevertheless, many Standing Liberty quarters remained in circulation until silver coins began to be hoarded by the public in 1964, prompting the change to base-metal pieces. [62]

The United States Mint in 2015 announced plans to restrike for collectors, in gold, the three silver coins first issued in 1916. The quarter would have its weight and fineness inscribed on the obverse, and thus would technically be a bullion coin. The quarter was to be the original 1916, with the bared breast. [63] No more than 100,000 were minted at the West Point Mint (mint mark "W" is in the same location as all other coins of this type). [64]

Beginning of the Homestead strike

With the union’s three-year contract with Carnegie coming to an end in June 1892, Frick announced pay cuts for hundreds of Homestead workers. After refusing to negotiate with the union, he shuttered the Homestead steel mill on June 29, locking 3,800 workers out. Only around 725 of those workers belonged to Amalgamated, but all of them voted to strike, surprising Frick, who had assumed only union members would strike.

After Frick had a high fence topped with barbed wire built around the mill itself, leading workers to dub it 𠇏ort Frick,” armed workers surrounded the plant and sealed off the town. In order to protect the strikebreakers he planned to hire, Frick followed the example of many industrialists battling unions and called in the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. Pinkerton detectives had become known for infiltrating unions and breaking strikes nationwide, including at another Carnegie plant a few years earlier.

Stereoscopic photograph showing striking steel workers on a hill above the Carnegie Steel Company&aposs Homestead Steel Works in Homestead, Pennsylvania, July 1892.

Coinage of the Byzantine Empire

The coinages of southeastern Europe differ greatly from those of the west. When the barbarian hordes destroyed the Roman Empire in the west, the eastern half was able to repel them and continue intact for another thousand years before falling to the Turks in 1453. The East Roman or Byzantine Empire continued issuing its coinage throughout this period. Interest in this series has increased greatly in past years and there are many good references on the market in English. Consequently, the author has summarized each of the coinage periods (oriented to political eras) through which the Empire passed during its life. The periods used are those of Baynes, The Byzantine Empire (Oxford, 1952).

THEODOSIAN PERIOD (395-491 AD) - Coinage was identical to that of the 4th century with small bronze, the AR siliqua, and the AV solidus and fractions all being struck. The obverse type was the bust or head of the emperor, profile on AE and AR, often facing on AV coins. The commonest reverse type on gold was the Victory (winged female figure) and the legends were the same as used on all Roman coinage. Monograms appear, and the cross and the Christogram are used, mainly on bronze coins.

JUSTINIANEAN PERIOD (491-610 AD) - The emperor Anastasius reformed the coinage by stabilizing the division of the solidus in units called nummia. The bronze coins were then struck in multiples of nummia, using Greek numerals (Roman in some cases) to indicate denomination: M=40, K=20, I=10, E=5, IB=12, H=8, and S=6. On occasion, XXXX=40, XXX=30, XX=20, X=10, and V=5. The bust of the emperor, diademed or helmeted, was the standard obverse type although two facing seated figures are found on some larger AE coins (emperor and empress). Silver was issued in denominations of 250 nummia (CN), 125 nummia (PKE), and 120 nummia (PK). The gold solidus still resembled that of the last period except the emperor was almost always shown facing. VICTORIA AVGGG was a common reverse legend. The Victory still appears on gold and the cross potent on three steps was introduced as a reverse type.

HERACLIAN PERIOD (610-717 AD) - The coinage of the previous period continued but the AE tended to degenerate in workmanship. Coins were still dated, as they had been starting with the reforms, in regal years. In addition to the ruler's bust, standing figures became common, often three on the obverse. The cross on three steps was the standard reverse on gold. Greek letters began to appear in legends and the Greek title BASILIOS or king began to be used in place of the old Roman IMPERATOR. The first busts of Christ appeared as reverse types of emperor Justinian II. The silver hexagram was struck replacing the siliqua. The really poor appearance of the bronze should be stressed although the gold solidus was still well struck.

ISAURIAN-AMORIAN or ICONOCLASTIC PERIOD (717 - 867 AD) - When Leo III became emperor at the height of the Arab attack on Constantinople, he brought change to the coinage as well as repelling the invaders. Religion was a paramount interest to Byzantines and the emperor, convinced that images in churches smacked of idolatry, forbade their use on pain of death. Thus started the long and bloody "Iconoclastic Revolt." Religious objects were removed from the coinage as well as churches so the cross on three steps disappeared. It was replaced by a bust or busts of the ruling family as a reverse type. When Leo died, his son just reversed the portraits. At one point, the solidus had three portraits on one face and two on the other. The bronze coinage continued much as before, but regal dating disappeared. Silver is not common during this period. Greek letters were frequently used. On bronzes, inscription-type reverses proclaiming the emperor ruler of the "Romans" became common (in five or six lines).

MACEDONIAN PERIOD (867-1057 AD) - The facing bust was now the accepted obverse form and busts do appear on reverses as in the previous period but religious types begin to reappear. The legends "Christ Conquers" and "King of Kings" start a series of religious types that continued to the fall of the empire. The title "King of the Romans" is routine (Imperator was last used by Michael III, in the previous period). The gold solidus was still struck but the flan became larger in time, while silver was not in large supply. The bronzes used the five-line legend but during the reign of Basil I, the anonymous bronze series was started. Normally, these coins depict a bust or half figure of Christ (the Virgin in some cases) on the obverse and a legend of up to five lines on the reverse. The usual form was "Jesus Christ, King of Kings" or simply "Christ Victorious." They were called "anonymous" since the emperor's name is not present. Bellinger lists 13 classes of these bronzes. Now these have been reduced to 12 classes. The nummia marks of Anastasius disappear.

COMNENIAN PERIOD (1057-1224 AD) - The coinage changed during this era with religious types used on both obverse and reverse faces. The seated figure or Christ or the Virgin (or selected saints) was standard on the reverse and on the obverse, the ruler with a religious figure (or the "hand" of God). The Virgin or Christ were the most popular. Saucer-shaped or scyphate coins appeared in all metals. Legends are mixed Greek and Latin, becoming almost completely Greek. They may be circular around the coin or vertical on either side of the obverse and reverse figure(s). Emperors are dressed in jeweled robes but can be found in armor. Religious figures are in robes or armor and always nimbate. Common abbreviations are XC IC for Christ, MO or MP OV for Mother of God or the Virgin.

PALEOLOGIAN PERIOD (1204-1453) - Western crusaders sacked Constantinople in 1204 and divided the Empire among themselves. Naturally, the Greeks did not agree and most of the Empire remained in their hands. In 1261, Michael VIII regained the city and reestablished the Empire. Unfortunately it was a downhill slide for the Byzantines that lasted, however, about 200 years. The coinage initially was very similar to the Comnenian but gradually it deteriorated both in style and workmanship. The gold scyphate coin was still struck and one of its last forms had as the reverse type the Virgin surrounded by the walls of Constantinople. Early bronzes depict saints (St. Theodore, St. Michael, or St. George) and are scyphate. In the last days, a flat coinage in silver was introduced with the emperor's bust on the obverse and that of Christ on the reverse. Gold is scarce except in the early years of this period.

Imitative Byzantine coinages are found throughout the medieval period. Initially, the western barbarian states copied Byzantine gold including the emperor's name and even the reverse mint mark. Later, neighboring countries in the Balkans also used the Byzantine types. The most common later imitative is of a silver coin of Andronicus II with two standing figures on the obverse and Christ seating facing on the reverse. This coin, with legends altered to indicated the real issuing authority, was used by the Bulgarians, the Serbians, and to some extent by Venice. The Normans in Sicily and southern Italy also copied the multiple as well as the single standing figures. They even struck scyphate coins. The Empires of Nicaea and Thessalonika between 1204 and 1261 issued coinages similar to Comnenian coinages. The Empire of Trebizond, another Greek splinter state, struck coins, the most representative being the silver asper which initially had a standing figure of the emperor and that of St. Eugenius on the reverse. Later both were placed on horseback. The legends were in Greek. Often considered with the Byzantine series are the coinages of the Vandals in North Africa and the Ostrogoths in Italy. The former issued rather characteristic AE coins using a horse's head as a type and imitative silver. The latter struck bronze coins that were distinctive but their silver was typical of the Empire. The BMC catalogues by Wroth cover both and the author's own monograph also reviews these imitative coinages. The coinage of the Visigoths in Spain is covered in great detail by Heiss.

Rare Nickel

My Answer: Saundra, the nickel you describe is part of the "Westward Journey" Nickel Series which were minted from 2004-2006 to commemorate the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase and the journey of Lewis and Clark to explore the new territory.

Jefferson got a whole new look for the series. You can read more about this new nickel series here.

Just scroll down a ways and you will see the nickel you describe along with the other nickels in the series.

Comments for Rare Nickel

Saundra, I don't think I made my explanation clear enough in my original answer.

The coin you describe is not a rare coin. All of the nickels minted in 2005 had this portrait of Jefferson's profile off to the left side.

Don't be sorry Saundra. Your questions are welcome here. It is curiosity like yours that brings more collectors into the hobby.

Please come back again if you have more questions.

Don, most U.S. coins were minted with what is referred to as "coin alignment". If flipped over from top to bottom, the reverse remains upright in relation to the obverse. When flipped from side-to-side, the reverse is upside down in relation to the obverse.

I found a 2004 Louisianna Purchase nickel that I think is printed with 180 degree rotation. It was marked with a masking tape and a number which made me really look at it.

If I hold the nickel in the upward position facing me and rotate it left to right/right to left by holding it in the middle, the opposite side facing me is in the upward postion. If I hold it on the left/right sides and flip it up and over the reverse side is upside down.

I found a 2004 Louisianna Purchase nickel that I think is printed with 180 degree rotation. It was marked with a masking tape and had a number hand written on it which made me really take a look at it.

If I hold the nickel in the upward position facing me and rotate it left to right/right to left by holding it in the middle, the opposite side facing me is in the upward postion. If I hold it on the left/right sides and flip it up and over the reverse side is upside down.