The following is excerpted from Clifford Mishler’s Coins: Questions & Answers Q: I have a naturally dark (not tarnished) Jefferson nickel. What caused the discoloration? Is it valuable? A: Off-color Jefferson nickels are not uncommon, and are known in ...
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Q&A: I have a naturally dark (not tarnished) Jefferson nickel. What caused the discoloration? Is it valuable? and more...

Q&A: I have a naturally dark (not tarnished) Jefferson nickel. What caused the discoloration? Is it valuable?

The following is excerpted from Clifford Mishler’s Coins: Questions & Answers

Q: I have a naturally dark (not tarnished) Jefferson nickel. What caused the discoloration? Is it valuable?

A: Off-color Jefferson nickels are not uncommon, and are known in hues ranging from smoky blue through deep purple, to black. The discoloration is caused by an incorrect alloy mix containing significantly too much copper. Some collectors are attracted to them, as some prefer toned Proof coins, and will pay a small premium for them.

The discoloration of poor ally mix is more commonly encountered in the bronze cent, taking the form of coins with discernible yellow streaks on the surface or with a distinct yellowish cast. The coin is normally composed of 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc. As the proportion of zinc to copper increases, the coins become progressively more yellow, until at a ratio of 30 to 70 percent the alloy becomes ordinary brass.

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U.S. Mint sales report: Week ending November 20, 2022

Hover to zoom.

This U.S. Mint numismatic sales report covers the week ending November 20, 2022. The Mint’s best-selling product last week was the 2022-S American Innovation $1 Reverse Proof Set (22GC), which sold 39,327 units. In second place was the 2022-S U.S. Mint Proof Set (22RG), with 8,990 sold. The third best-selling item last week was the 2022-S U.S. Mint Silver Proof Set (22RH), with 2,745 individual units sold. It’s followed by the 2022 U.S. Mint Uncirculated Set (P)(D) (22RJ), with 2,631 sold; and the 2022-S Limited Edition Silver Proof Set (22RC), with 1,157 sold.

Last week saw a downward adjustment of -227 for the 2022-S one-ounce American Silver Eagle $1 Proof coin, bulk (40 coins each) (22EM 040), -225 for the 2022 one-ounce American Platinum Eagle $100 Proof coin (22EJ), -6 for the 2022 American Women/Anna May Wong Three-Roll Set (120 coin) (P&D&S) (22WRK), -3 for the 2021-(P) Morgan silver Tribute dollar with O privy mark (21XD), and -3 for the 2021-(P)...

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Bowers on Collecting: Some notes on the 1883 Liberty Head nickel Without Cents

The following is re-published from the “Bowers on Collecting” column on Coin Update

On January 30, 1883, the first Liberty Head nickels were struck for circulation. By that time, 1,451,500 Shield nickels had been made with the 1883 date. This caused a flurry of speculation in Proof 1883 Shield nickels, as dealers, collectors, and investors thought they would prove to be very rare. Record quantities of Proofs were made.

Joseph Wharton, the main supplier of nickel metal to the Mint; a man with close political connections, was not completely satisfied. It certainly would be nice to have more than just 25% nickel in the alloy of the coin. In response, in 1883, Superintendent A. Loudon Snowden directed Chief Engraver Charles Barber to make some more patterns. This was done, including one inscribed “PURE NICKEL” (a dream come true for Wharton!); another with “75 N. 25 C.”; a further with “50 N. 50 C.” or “half-and-half”; and...

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Q&A: How did the 1844 dime gain the tag “Orphan Annie?”

1844 Liberty Seated dime PCGS MS-65. Images by the Professional Coin Grading Service. Hover to zoom.

The following is excerpted from Clifford Mishler’s Coins: Questions & Answers

Q: How did the 1844 dime gain the tag “Orphan Annie?”

A: Only 72,500 dimes were minted in 1844, but nobody noticed at the time, as coin collectors were then as rare as Greeley’s union printers, and there were no speculators wearing slide rules calibrated to predict instant and infinite profits. Attrition, abetted by collector neglect, took a great toll on the small mintage over the next 80 years or so. In 1930 (so the story goes), a collector in Kansas City discovered that the 1844 dime was even rarer than its mintage indicated and that this rarity wasn’t reflected by its market premium. He dubbed it “Orphan Annie” because “the coin had no buyers and was just an orphan in the coin world.” Today, it commands the highest premium by far, in the lower circulated grades, of any pre-Civil...

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Bowers on Collecting: Revisiting the two-cent piece of 1864 to 1873

By Q. David Bowers

The following is re-posted from the “Bowers on Collecting” column on Coin Update

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Liberty Seated silver coins had disappeared from circulation and, in bullion markets, sold for a premium. Bronze Indian Head cents introduced in March 1864 had become popular, and it was expected that two-cent pieces would be popular in commerce as well. This was not to be, and after a large coinage in 1864 of 20,000,000 pieces, quantities diminished until 1872 when only 65,000 were made, after which only Proofs were made for collectors.

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As to the design of the two-cent piece, the obverse depicts a heraldic shield with the motto “In God We Trust” on a ribbon above. This was the first appearance of this motto on a circulating United States coin and was suggested to the Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase by Rev. M.R. Watkinson in November 1861. The idea was hardly new, as Francis Scott Key in the fourth...

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