Tag Archives: silver coins

History of the Nickel pt.1

When you think about our coins, which do you think is the oldest? Well, the oldest of our modern coin denominations is actually the nickel which is older than the penny by a year. The nickel is our oldest currency, dating back as early as 1792. Originally known as the half-dime, this coin has been around in one form or another since the early years of the union. Curious about it’s history and how it changed with our country? Read on.

1792 half dismeThe Half-Disme

First coined in 1792 the half disme (yes they spelled dime with an “s” it was the 18th century, modern english as we know it wouldn’t emerge until much later, and anyways it’s French) emerged as the country was first beginning to expand. The US had just grown to 14 states with the creation of Vermont, had no navy to speak of, and were paying tribute to the barbary pirates. At this point, we had trading relationships with the spanish colonies (Louisiana and Florida) and so Spanish reales flowed freely along with English shillings and pence. Because of the complete incompatibility of the currencies of England and Spain, it slowed down trade and exchange between the two required overly complex exchange calculations.

Which leads us to the creation of the US currency system. Congress was debating how we should change our national currency. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton all favored the adoption of the decimal system, which was useful on multiple fronts for the US. Firstly, it would represent a clean break from the English Pound Sterling currency and allow a way to reconcile the differences between Spanish and English currencies.

After the US adopted the dollar in 1785 events moved very quickly over the next 7 years. From the creation of a national mint to the actual minting of the coin. The half disme is very rare, and many counterfeits exist. To date, there are only 200-250 known examples still in existence. This coin was mainly used for visiting dignitaries and very few were actually issued into circulation. In fact, the coin was replaced in 1794 by the next coin on our list, the Flowing Hair half dime.

1794 Flowing Hair Half Dime1794-95 Flowing Hair Half Dime

The first nickel to be distributed to the American people was the 1794 Flowing Hair half dime. Designed by Robert Scot, the first chief engraver for the national mint. The coin was minted for two years before it was replaced, but it is an extremely rare and highly valuable collector’s piece. Around 7,500 half dimes were minted with the 1794 date, but were actually minted in March of 1795. Due to the infancy of the mint at this point, most of the half-dimes are of poor striking quality which is considered normal until the mid 19th century where techniques were improved and/or changed. All of the flowing hair half dimes were struck at the newly finished Philadelphia Mint. Interestingly enough, no true proofs are known, although there are some coins that are of presentation levels of quality.

This coin represents a very important piece of American history. This half dime is one of the first official issues of silver coinage by the US. Where in the past, silver coinage had been the purview of the monarchy, for our government to produce it was a clear and decisive act of nationalism.

Our money is a rich and colorful window into our nation’s history. A lot can be gleaned from our coinage. Come back next week where we’ll continue to look at the history of the nickel. Additionally, check out some of the great historical silver coins we have available for purchase.

Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on Google+.

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Top 5 Most Sought After Coins

Sports has always had their MVPs. Players who represent being the most valuable asset on their respective teams. Sometimes these players become so popular they become the figurehead for their team. Same can be said when collecting coins. There are certain rare coins that are highly sought after, and become the centerpiece of many numismatists collections. Here are our Top 5 Coin MVPs.

Walking Liberty Half DollarWalking Liberty Half Dollar – No. 5

Our first entry is the Walking Liberty half dollar. This coin is definitely one of the more popular coins for numismatists to collect because of its beauty. Minted through the roaring 20′s, the Great Depression, and two World Wars, the Walking Liberty Half Dollars carries a great deal of US history with it. Also, the obverse was so popular, that the US mint re-used it when they started minting the Silver Eagles in 1986.

Mercury Dime ObverseMercury Dime – No. 4

Our next MVP, is the Mercury Dime. The artistry on this coin is called one of the great designs of the 20th century. One interesting tidbit of trivia, is that the obverse does not in fact depict, Mercury, the messenger of the Roman gods. It is actually Liberty with a winged cap which symbolized freedom of thought. This coin also served through very turbulent times, and was even the part of the song, “Brother, can you spare a dime?” from the Great Depression.

Morgan Dollar ObverseMorgan Silver Dollar – No. 3

Coming in at number 3 is the Morgan Silver Dollar. A must-have for every collector, the Morgan Silver Dollar is one of the most popular and collected coin series in the US. We’ve talked about the Morgan Silver dollar before, so I won’t go into the history of it. However, this is definitely one that should be a cornerstone of your collection.

1935 Buffalo NickelBuffalo Nickel – No. 2

Now this was a close tie with number 3, but the Buffalo Nickel got the lead by a nose. Another coin we talked about recently, the rich history of this coin makes it another very popular showcase item for collectors. This coin series has several very rare strikes, including the 3 legged buffalo in the 1937-D series.

Saint Gauden’s Double Eagle/Flowing Hair Dollar – No. 1

Coming in at number one, is a tie between two of the most sought after coins by collectors around the world. The Flowing Hair Dollar was the first coin issued and used by the US. Today, scholars believe there are only between 130-140 known to still exist. This, of course, tied with the Saint-Gauden’s Double Eagle, considered one of the most beautiful coins minted by the US Mint. Very few of these coins still exist due to the Big Melt of 1933 when FDR recalled all the coins to be melted down. Any of the ones still existing as part of a collection, have been dealing with legal ramifications as the federal government claims that the coins are federal property not private property.

Flowing Hair Dollar1933 Saint Gaudens Gold Double Eagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on Google+.

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A Brief History of US Coins

Something that is quite fascinating that many people don’t actually know is the history of that change that sits in your change jar or in your car. For example, did you know that the dime is actually the third iteration of the dime? Or that there used to be a half dime before there was a nickel? Or that the Lincoln penny is actually the latest in a very long line of pennies? Today, we delve briefly into the history of our pocket change and see the rich history from where our currency comes from.

The Lincoln Penny

1909-S VDB Lincoln cent

For many of us, the Lincoln head penny is the only penny that we know, with Lincoln’s profile on one side and the monument on the other. But, the truth is that the Lincoln cent piece didn’t start in circulation until 1909 and broke the mold where minting was concerned as it was the first US coin to feature a president on it. It had been tradition since Washington’s presidency that no coin feature the depiction of a president past or present. So when this coin was brought up for review, it had met some resistance from traditionalists, but they all fell by the way side in front of Theodore Roosevelt who pushed the coin design through after having just approved four new designs for the gold eagle denominations. The first year it was minted the lincoln cent had the designers initials VDB at the base of the reverse. This led to a public outcry and the initals were quickly removed, which in turn, created the coveted 1909-S VDB cent. Another interesting fact, in 1943, when copper was scarce during World War II, the penny was made out of a steel alloy which led to another collector’s item. Who knew the penny would hold so much sway?

1943 Steel Lincoln Cent Obverse

The Steel Lincoln Penny

The Jefferson Nickel

1945 Jefferson NickelIntroduced in 1938, the Jefferson Nickel is the only coin to still be made of its original composition today. Almost 80 years later, this humble coin is still being minted honoring our third president. Early in 1938 the Treasury Department announced a competition for designs to replace the Buffalo/Indian Head nickel. The rules of the contest was that the obverse would feature an “authentic portrait” of our third president with the reverse featuring his home near Charlottesville. Additionally, the design had to fit the technical requirements of Mint. Out of 390 models, German-American Felix Schlag’s design was selected. Schlag’s initials didn’t appear on the nickel until almost 30 years later.

The Roosevelt Dime

Silver Roosevelt DimeAnother coin with a rich history is the dime. The first ten cent piece was coined in 1793 and was the last of the first issuance of coins when the US mint first opened. The dime’s design has changed over 11 times since its first issuance in 1793, with an average of 12 years per major design. The Roosevelt Dime has been the longest running design in the coin’s lifespan with it coming to it’s 70th birthday in 2016. The Roosevelt Dime was issued under pressure from the US public who, in 1945, wanted some memorial for the fallen leader. This coin broke the 40 year tradition of asking outside artists for designs and was tasked internally by the US mint to their chief engraver. While there are no rare dates for the Roosevelt dime, there is one premium dime that is worth more than its silver bullion value, the 1949-S dime that was minted out of the US mint in San Francisco.

The Washington Quarter

Washington Silver Quarter 1944

Our final coin today is the Quarter. The Washington Quarter’s story is interesting to say the least. After the dark shadow of the Great Depression had fallen across the us in 1931, Americans had little to celebrate. However, the following year, 1932, would mark George Washington’s 200th birthday and to help bolster public spirit the Treasury Department were ready to mark the occasion. Originally, the Treasury Department had proposed a half dollar be struck to honor the birth of the founding father. The contest was started early and while most entrants were denied, one had gained unanimous favor by the Commission of Fine arts. The original design of the coin was done by Laura Gardin Fraser, the designer for the Oregon Trail commemorative coin and wife to the creator of the Buffalo nickel. However, the commission wasn’t the only party that needed to be pleased for the coin to be minted.

Congress then got into the debate, due to the fact that the Treasury Department needed their approval to change the design for the half dollar. Once they were asked, they instead compromised and decided to change the quarter instead. But, it was the final person, Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, who still had something to say.

Mr. Mellon, had his own views on art, and felt that the design by John Flanagan was superior to the Fraser design. Flanagan’s design was simple, more like a portrait with Washington’s profile on the obverse and a heraldic eagle adorning the reverse. With it’s simple design the mint was able to issue the coin easily and quickly. Since it began production of the coin in 1932, the mint has issued over 21 billion coins, an amazing quantity by any standard.

Well, I hope you liked our brief look into the history of our nation’s coinage, if you’re interested in our selection of collectable coins, you can browse through them here.

Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on Google+.

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The Top 5 Rarest US Coins

While there are many rare coins throughout the world and history, and many would debate where they would rank in rarity. Most believe in rarity based on number minted and how many are known to exist. Monetary value also has a big part to play. With that said, here is our list of the top 5 rarest US coins.

1863 Liberty Head Gold CoinNo. 5 – 1861 Liberty Head Gold Coin

This gold coin coming in at number five on our list was actually minted on accident. Late revisions for the coin were issued to the US mint but they didn’t receive word of them until after some of the coins had already been produced and put into circulation. Only two are know and in 2010 went for a cool 5.6 million dollars.

1804 Crosset Liberty Gold EagleNo. 4 – 1804 Ten Dollar Gold Piece

Less than 10 of these rare coins were ever produced, and only three are known to still currently exist today. Additionally, these coins were produced three decades after their minted year. The most recent sighting of this coin was seen in 2005 where it was sold 8.5 million dollars. These like their more rare silver dollar counterparts were mainly produced for diplomatic purposes.

1913 Liberty Head NickelNo. 3 – 1913 Liberty Nickel

Another US Mint mistake is the 1913 Liberty nickel. Produced in 1913, the liberty head nickels were produced without the US Mint knowing. Since the buffalo nickel was supposed to be produced that year, no liberty head nickels were to be minted but somehow a handful were made. Samuel Brown, an employee of the US Mint is credited for secretly minting these coins and then sneaking them out of the office. Only five are known to exist, two are exhibits in museums and the other three are part of private collections. The last time one of these nickels was at public auction was in 2010 where it fetched 3.7 million dollars.

1933 Saint Gaudens Gold Double EagleNo. 2 – 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle

One of the rarest coins known, the Saint-Gaudens Double eagle was minted in 1933, but was never released into circulation due to a change in currency laws during the Great Depression. The entire run was supposedly melted down into gold bullion. However, a US Mint cashier is said to have given out some of the coins in exchange for earlier double-eagles. Outside of the two that are in the national currency collection at the Smithsonian there are two other known coins. The only known auction of the coin was handled by Sotheby’s where it fetched 7.5 million dollars.

1804 Silver DollarNo.1  – 1804 Silver Dollar

Coming in at the top of the list is the 1804 Silver Dollar also known as the Bowed Liberty Dollar. This coin is the holy grail of numismatic collectors. Currently, there are only 15 known genuine 1804 silver dollars. These rare coins were actually produced 30 years after their stamp date and used mainly for diplomatic purposes. One example is the famous King of Siam coin which can be seen in the movie, “The King and I” and in the novel, Anna and the King of Siam. This silver dollar is also one of the few coins to possess three separate classes of quality. Class I is considered the original genuine coin. Class II and III were produced illegally by an employee of the Philadelphia branch of the US Mint. All of the Class II were seized and destroyed save one which resides in the Smithsonian. Class III were also produced illegally and while the US Mint tried seizing all of these copies as well some had already been distributed to collectors.

That’s our list of the Top 5 rarest US coins, check out our collection of rare coins on our website. Think that we missed one or labeled one too high? Comment below or on our Facebook page.

Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on .

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How to Collect Silver Bars and Bullion

Silver-Ounce

 

I want to talk about how you can collect silver. Like any precious metal, silver can be used for investment purposes. For thousands of years, silver has been highly valued and even used as money. Today, it’s no longer accepted as legal tender in many counties. However, the demand for silver is still very high.

Silver is on the rise

With all the unstable federal governments and economies, silver is certainly on the rise. As the dollar becomes less and less stable, silver becomes more valuable to investors. Today, silver is a better buy than gold. It’s also undervalued relative to gold. Those who feel gold is too expensive are looking to purchase silver. All of these reasons combined are pushing the price of silver higher. For those of you looking for stability and security, collecting silver is definitely the way to go.

One Troy Ounce

Silver is sold by the troy ounce. One troy ounce weighs 31.1 grams, which is more than the 28.35 grams you would call an ounce of milk. Therefore, one troy ounce is approximately 10 percent more than a regular ounce. When buying silver, it’s very important to know about the troy ounce, as dealers will refer to silver prices by troy ounce.

Numismatic vs. Bullion

When purchasing silver, you have the option to choose between numismatic or bullion. Generally speaking, numismatic coins are for experienced collectors. Their value is determined by things such as the date they was issued, rarity, condition, even the mint where they were produced. Bullion, on the other hand, is valued by its silver content. There are two main types of bullion: coins and bars.

Choosing Between Coins and Bars

Not all silver bullion is created equally. You should know the differences between silver coins and bars in order to make educated purchases. Many people prefer to buy coins because they offer greater flexibility when it comes time to sell. For instance, if you buy a 100-ounce silver bar you will have to sell the entire 100-ounces at one time. But, if you buy 100-ounces of silver coins or rounds, you could sell any number of rounds at anytime.

Silver Bars Are Cost Effective

While coins provide you with greater flexibility, silver bars are generally more cost effective. Because they are not minted, they are often much cheaper than coins. They come in sizes such as one, ten and 100-ounce bars. They also sell at spot, which means they do not include premiums that coins such as Silver Eagles can have. If you are a beginner or if you are just trying to protect your wealth and buying power of your money, then I suggest you invest in silver bars.

Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on

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Why You Should Invest in Silver

silver_barsIn my opinion, now is the time to invest in silver! It may not be as rare as gold, but it does have many industrial uses in addition to its monetary properties. Due to increased supply and demand, silver is currently trading for approximately $23 per troy ounce. While the price of silver is significantly lower than that of gold, this precious metal is becoming a valuable commodity in today’s market. As a result, investors can receive higher payouts when the market is up.

Easily accessible

It’s fairly easy to purchase silver. Many dealers sell silver coins. For example, the Great American Coin Company is proud to offer lots of silver quarters and dimes. Keep in mind, all quarters and dimes produced before 1964 were made of 90 percent silver. Additionally, some dealers offer silver bars and rounds. These pieces can range from one ounce to ten or 100 ounces of .999 fine silver.

Industrial demand

Silver isn’t just a valuable commodity that people save for its monetary value; it’s malleable, ductile, strong, and can endure high temperatures. For these reasons, silver is used in a variety of industrial and medical applications. According to prominent analysts, this increased demand can prevent silver from falling below production costs, making it a good investment.

Lower price

Silver is a much lower price than its gold cousin. One reason silver is cheaper than gold is because of the rarity of the metal itself. Gold is simply more rare than silver. As a result, this imbalance in supply and demand between the two metals makes up most of the difference in their prices. However, if you’re looking for a safe, conservative investment, silver is a better option. Also, there is speculation that the U.S. Mint may raise their silver prices. Now is the time to buy!

People buy silver for different reasons. Some want to protect themselves for unavoidable inflation, while others do it in order to meet their collection needs. Either way, there will always be a huge demand for silver, and that’s why its value keeps increasing.

Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on

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What Are My Coins Worth?

We often get asked the question: “What are my coins worth?” Well, the answer depends on a couple different things. For instance, your coin’s weight, metal composition and base metal prices. We’ve created this guide for people who are unfamiliar with coins but want to find out about certain coin values. Keep in mind, this is just appraisal value. It’s very difficult to tell the actual value of a coin without seeing it in person. The true value of your coin may differ slightly, depending on its condition and the current market.

Indian Penny, 1894Indian Head Cents

The Indian Head one-cent coin was produced by the United States Mint from 1859-1909. Also known as the Indian Penny, this coin displays the head of Liberty wearing a feather head dress of a Native American and the year of production. This copper penny is worth 50 cents to $3.00.

Lincoln Wheat Pennies

Lincoln wheat pennies were produced at three different mints: Philadelphia (no mintmark), Denver (D) and San Francisco (S) from 1909 to 1958. Depending on its condition, this pretty penny is worth between 2 and 5 cents. However, if you come across a very rare 1909-S VDB Lincoln wheat penny, consider yourself lucky. It can be worth between $964 and $2479!

Buffalo Nickels

The Buffalo nickel is a copper five-cent piece produced by the United States Mint from 1913 to 1938. This unique coin contains a Native American on one side and an American bison on the other. Because the coin is subjected to wear, it can be worth 25 cents to $1.00.

Jefferson War Nick1943 Jefferson Silver war nickelels

From 1942 to 1945, nickel was a strategic war material for the United States. During these years, nickels were struck in a copper-silver-manganese alloy. Commonly referred to as “war nickels,” these coins are worth 50 cents to $1.00.

Barber Dimes

Barber dimes were minted between 1892 and 1916. Designed by United States Bureau of the Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber, the term ‘dime’ comes from the French word disme, which literally means, “tenth part.” Made of 90 percent silver, these small coins can range from $1.60 to $5.00.

Roosevelt Dimes Silver

Minted after the 32nd President of the United States, Roosevelt silver dimes were issued between 1946 to 1964. Also made of 90 percent silver, these coins range from $1.50 to $2.00. Roosevelt dimes are still made for circulation by the U.S. Mint today, however, not in silver.

Standing Liberty Quarters

1925 Standing Liberty Quarter FrontProduced by the United States Mint from 1916 to 1930, the Standing Liberty quarter is made of 90 percent silver. This coin displays Liberty carrying an upraised shield in her left hand and an olive branch in her right hand. With the exception of 1923-S Standing Liberty quarters, this coin is worth between $4.00 and $10.00.

Washington Quarters Silver

Minted after the 1st President of the United States, Washington silver quarters were produced from 1932 to 1964. All quarters without mintmarks are made at the main Mint in Philadelphia. Rare mintmarks to look for include Denver (D) and San Francisco (S). Also made of 90 percent silver, this coin can range from $4.00 to $6.00.

Franklin Half Dollars

The Franklin half-dollar was issued by the United States Mint from 1948 to 1963. This fifty-cent piece features Founding Father and inventor, Benjamin Franklin, on the obverse side. The reverse side contains a small eagle to right of the liberty bell. Made of 90 percent silver, this coin is estimated between $7.00 and $15.00.

Kennedy Half DolUSA - Kennedy half dollar.lars Silver

The Kennedy half-dollar was first minted in 1964 as a memorial to the assassinated President John F. Kennedy. This fifty-cent coin is 90 percent silver and worth from $7.00 to $15.00. Between 1965 and 1969, the Kennedy half-dollar was made of 40 percent silver and can range from $3.00-$5.00.

Morgan Dollars

The Morgan dollar was issued by the United States Mint from 1878 to 1904, and then again in 1921. This coin is named after its designer, Assistant Engraver George T. Morgan. Unless you have graciously stumbled upon the 1889‑CC Morgan dollar, which is the most rare of the Carson City Mint Morgans, this coin is worth between $15.00 and $30.00.

Peace Dollars

The Peace Dollar was minted from 1921 to 1928, and again in 1934 and 1935 by the United States Mint. Numismatists began to lobby the Mint to issue a coin that memorialized the peace following World War I. This is the last U.S. dollar coin to be struck for circulation in silver and is worth between $15.00 and $25.00.

Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on

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