Curious, but True! Part 2

This week I continue with “numismatic curiosities,” some well known and some obscure.


• The centennial of Alabama statehood took place in 1919, but half dollars commemorating the occasion were not issued until 1921 (better late than never!).

• “Liberty” is often portrayed as a goddess or other woman on United States coins, but when asked, noted sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens once said that his ideal depiction of liberty would be a young boy leaping.

• Was the silver half disme of 1792 a pattern or is it a regular issue? The debate was given at length in Harold P. Newlin’s 1883 monograph on half dimes (he said it was a regular coin). Today, nearly everyone agrees.

• Confusing? 1974-dated aluminum Lincoln cents were struck in 1973. 1964-D Peace silver dollars were struck in 1965.

• The Charlotte Mint building, now removed to a city park, still stands and is used as a museum in that North Carolina city. The Dahlonega (Georgia) Mint burned down in the last century, but its foundation still exists, now supporting another building.

• Much print has been expended on what is the most beautiful American coin — the 1879 Schoolgirl pattern dollar, the MCMVII Saint-Gaudens High Relief $20, the 1916 Liberty Walking half dollar, or pick your favorite. The ugliest design is not often considered, but one 19th-century observer of the numismatic scene considered it to be a pattern silver three-cent piece made in 1849, with just the number 3 on one side and the Roman numeral III on the other.

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