June 16th, 2014
Charles E. Barber designed the Barber Half Dollars during his commission as the Chief Engraver of the United States Mint. President Benjamin Harrison approved the Barber design in November, 1891, and the Mint issued the coins from 1892 until 1915 when it was replaced by the Weinman’s Walking Liberty. Each coin contains 0.36 ounces of silver.
Initially, a competition took place for a new design, but the entries did not hold up to the Mint’s standards. On the obverse side of the coin, Barber’s design has a Liberty head facing to the right that wears a wreath and a Phrygian cap. Thirteen six-pointed stars surrounded the head.
On the reverse side, he used a heraldic eagle with 13 five-pointed stars which are located over the eagles head rather than around the edge of the coin. The stars represent each of the original states. The ribbon with E Pluribus Unum runs behind the eagle rather than in its beak. The eagle’s right wing tip slightly covers the e in United, while the eagle’s left wing tip covers most of the e in America. The original design called for clouds over the eagle. However President Harrison and his cabinet decided against the clouds in the final version.
The New Orleans and San Francisco mint marks changed over the years on the Barber Half Dollar. In all, a complete collection consists of seventy-three different coins.
March 19th, 2014
The United States Mint is constantly experimenting with new formats for offering their numismatic products. Oftentimes this has been a recombination of disparate coins into a new type of “prestige” or “limited edition” set. In other cases, the coins have been brought together with a diverse assortment of educational materials from a variety of sources.
One such product type that has been offered on four separate occasions is referred to as the Coin and Chronicles Set. These sets have typically contained one or more coins together with educational materials relevant to the subject of the coin. These sets for the more popular subjects have often proven extremely popular with the public, achieving rapid sell outs.
Some of the materials included in these special sets have included intaglio prints from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing or special versions of medals produced by the United States Mint. The first set included a booklet prepared by the Supreme Court Historical Society, and the second contained a reproduction of a book published by the government printing office. Finally, United States Postal Service stamps have appeared within the sets.
For the first three times these sets were offered, a maximum product limit of 50,000 units had been established. Two out of the three sets had achieved a sell out. The most notable was for the Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set which managed to sell out in less than a week, despite an ordering limit of one per household.
Most recently, the Theodore Roosevelt Set was offered without a product limit. Sales have been slower, perhaps due to a long delayed shipping date. These sets contain a .999 fine version of the Roosevelt Presidential Medal.
February 12th, 2014
From 1999 to 2008, the State Quarters Program inspired many members of the public to become coin collectors, diligently putting aside one or more quarters with designs representing each of the fifty states. Drawing on a similar concept, the Presidential Dollars Program was launched in 2007. The series will feature all of the former Presidents of the United States, with new coins released at a rate of four per year in the order served.
These are meant to remember the history of the country and the executive office over the past 200 years. Just like the quarters, each dollar coin will contain the face of every president. This process began in 2007 and will continue through at least 2016.
A big decision for the Presidential coins was the low success of older models. Other dollar coins have enjoyed low levels of success. They seemed to reach a smaller audience than the quarters and were used less frequently. One major reason the continued presence of the paper $1 bill, which consumers have opted to use.
Even though these dollar coins may not be as widely used as the state quarters, they have attracted a similar collecting base. Many people have diligently put aside coins representing each Presidency. A popular method of collecting large quantities has been to put aside Presidential Dollar Rolls for each release of the series. The rolls typically contain 25 uncirculated examples of the coin in a wrapper or container. How many collectors will see the series through to its conclusion? And what collecting challenge will present itself next?
January 17th, 2014
Certain series within the history of United States coinage tend to be more popular with collectors. Typically, the larger sized coins such as silver dollars will have a significant following. There is something special about the heft and size of the coins which lends to greater satisfaction and appreciation when handling. Other popular series include the commemorative coins, which include a multitude of different designs. Rather than seeing the same design with a different date, each coin is distinct in purpose and history, lending to a rich collecting experience.
Due to the concept of supply and demand, these heavily collected series may have price points which are comparatively higher than other less collected series. In many cases, the less popular series may represent outright bargains.
Rather than pursuing the same series as so many others, why not try a new collecting challenge? A great series to consider is the Barber Dime. This is among the smallest sized US coin series and has a design viewed by many as unappealing. The series is typically overshadowed by the following Mercury Dime series, which has a wide collector base.
The Barber Dimes were struck for a period of 25 years from 1892 to 1916. During this time, production would take place at four different mint facilities, leading to a total number of 74 different issues for a complete set. While mintages often stretch well into the millions, the number of surviving gem mint state specimens is surprisingly low.
While it can present a genuine challenge to assemble a collection in higher grades, the prices are relatively affordable. This is especially true when compared to the more popular series. Over time, the series may present rewards as more come to realize the challenge and appeal of this classic United States coin series.