March 16th, 2013
Nowadays collectors are fortunate to be able to order the latest United States Mint products with a click of a button. The most popular product for many years running has been the annual proof set. This product traces its roots back many years when collectors were thrilled to be able to acquire high quality proof examples of each of the year’s circulating denomination. While the current proofs have a very standardized format, this was not always the case.
During the beginning of the era of modern proof coinage in 1936, the US Mint offered each denomination individually or as part of a complete set. This resulted in different mintages for each coin. Collector preferences typically skewed towards the lower denomination and any coins which had undergone a design change. For each year from 1936 to 1942, the lowest mintage coin was always the quarter dollar.This system of individually ordering coins was not very conducive to mass production.
The system would change in 1950, when early proofs were sold only in complete sets. The cent, nickel, dime, quarter, and half dollar were placed within cellophane slips, which were stapled together and placed within a cardboard box. Mintage levels for the annual sets began to rise during this period, making way for another change in packaging.
Midway through 1955, the box was replaced by a flat pack and envelope. Each coin was held within a compartment of a plastic sleeve. These were placed within an envelope for better storage and distribution. At this point, annual production began to surge, reaching a peak of nearly 4 million sets by 1964.
February 26th, 2013
The seated liberty half dimes are appreciated for their monetary value to collectors, and also the artistic quality. The original design was created in the second half of the 1830’s, but alterations to the original design were made just one year later. In one form or another, the design continued to be used for the duration of the half dime denomination.
The design of the seated liberty was that of a robed liberty sitting on a rock. It is important to note that she sits on a rock, because the rock has symbolism in the founding of our country. A shield is placed in front of her that she balances with her left hand. She holds a pole with a Liberty cap placed on top, as a symbol of freedom.
For the first year of issue, there were no stars present on the obverse design. This would be changed just one year later when stars were added. Other alternations would include adjusting the drapery of Miss Liberty’s clothing. Later in the series, there would be arrows and rays placed within the design to denote changes in composition.
The history and meaning of coins is extremely significant, and collectors pride themselves in their knowledge while in pursuit of even more information. The pursuit of information leads them to learn the about the artists, the history use of the mints, and to the meaning of the tiniest symbol that would escape the average person.
February 13th, 2013
The silver dollar formed one of the cornerstones of the American monetary system as the highest silver denomination. As such it has been viewed with great importance by the United States Mint as well as collectors. Perhaps the most popular series in all of coin collecting is the Morgan Dollar issued from 1878 to 1921. While many issues can be acquired without much difficulty, there are some key dates that make completion of a set an impossible task for collectors of limited means.
An alternative series to collect is the Peace Dollar issued from 1921 to 1935. The more limited run of the series means that a full set can be completed with 35 different coins. A year set with one example from each date is even more limited. Although the series does contain some significant key dates, in lower uncirculated grades, these coins still remain accessible.
The series was created as a way to commemorate the Peace following the conclusion of the Great War. The design is a dramatic display of the talents of sculptor Anthony De Francisci. The obverse is said to have been based on his wife’s visage, while the reverse presents an eagle in an uncharacteristic pose. Rather than heraldic form or flight, it is at rest on a rock, as if at peace.
Challenges are available for the advanced collectors. Besides the few key dates, there are many issues which are significant conditional rarities. This means they are relatively available in lower grades, but extremely rare in higher uncirculated grades. This is due to the production quality of some issues and the tendency for the coins to garner heavy marks while in transportation. A full set of gem Peace Dollars is a wonder to behold for those up to the task.
January 23rd, 2013
When looking for an interesting and historical series of silver coinage to collect, not too many people would first think of the Capped Bust Half Dimes. However, this early series of the five cent denomination carries classic elements of beauty, while still remaining approachable to collectors or modest budgets.
At the time the series made its debut, the half dime had not been minted for a period of 22 years. Much had changed since the prior series. The second Philadelphia Mint had opened and improved technology was used. This included the closed collar, which allowed mass production to take place and resulted in more standardized specifications. Accordingly, the new series featured considerably higher mintages than the prior. For the year 1829, there were more half dimes produced than in all prior years of operation for the Mint.
Despite being such an early series, the higher mintages mean the coins remain more or less available to collectors. Although there is as always much competition for the highest grades, lower mint state or about uncirculated coins can be acquired for a few hundred dollars. There are no elusive key dates for the entire series, making it possible to acquire an entire collection with a modest budget.
The Capped Bust Half Dimes will comprise of just nine different coins with dates ranging from 1829 to 1837. All coins were struck at the Philadelphia Mint with the same design.