The Gold and Silver Mine
A weekly column dedicated to “digging out” current information about precious metals, coins and other numismatics.
Last week I gave you an introduction to “type” coin collecting. I hope my explanation of a type coin made sense. While the coins of the 20th century(1900’s) offer a wide range of different type coins, my favorite is the coins of the 19th century (1800’s). This is because of all the design changes during that time, plus there are also quite a variety of odd denominations that are no longer in use.
Coins that are included in a 19th century type set are:
Half Cents (yes, our money went a lot further then) 3 different designs
Large Cents; 5 major different designs.
Small Cents; (because of the cost of production, and the lack of popularity, the size of the 1 cent coin was reduced in 1857); 3 different designs
Two Cent coin; (First minted in 1864 this is the first coin to have the motto “In God We Trust” placed on it. This was due to the increased religious sentiment during the Civil War); 1 design.
Three Cents (made of silver); 3 designs
Three Cents (made of nickel); 1 design
Half Dime(that’s right, our first 5 cent coin was made of silver and called a half dime because it contained half the silver that a dime contained. Remember, the original intent of coins was that they were to contain their value in a precious metal, mostly gold or silver); 6 major designs
Five Cent (nickel) A second five cent coin was minted in the metal nickel. Because it circulated along with the silver half dime, it picked up the slang term “nickel” which persists today when referring to the five cent coin. There is no coin denomination “nickel”. 3 designs. This includes the infamous “racketeer” nickel of 1883. Why is this coin called a “Racketeer Nickel”? Well, here’s the story:
In 1883, a new design for the 5 cent coin was minted for circulation. It had the design of Lady Liberty on the front of the coin and the Roman numeral “V” on the reverse, signifying “five”. The problem was the coin didn’t indicate five what. There was no indication that it meant five cents. Some enterprising individuals (racketeers) took these coins and gold plated them. Since the design of the coin was similar in size and appearance to five dollar gold pieces, they were able to pass the plated coins as five dollar gold pieces. Once the government realized what was happening, the coin was redesigned with the word “cents” added under the Roman Numeral “V”, thus eliminating the problem.
Dime; 9 designs.
I’ll finish listing the remaining coin denominations next week. As you can see, collecting type coins provides an opportunity to accumulate quite a variety of different appearing coins and that makes for an interesting display.
Douglas Keefe is the president of Beachcomber Coins, Inc. He and his wife Linda operate Beachcomber Coins and Collectibles in the Shore Mall as well as satellite offices in both Brigantine and Absecon. Between them they have over 70 years experience in the coin and precious metals business.