Some Dates Relevant to Numismatics

Some dates relevant to numismatics, some well-known, others obscure:

 The first paper money of the New World was issued by the colony of Massachusetts in 1690.
1776: Continental Currency pewter dollars were struck, probably under the auspices of the Continental Congress, but no authorization has been discovered by numismatic scholars. However, as the $1 of related design was eliminated from Continental paper money at this time, it is likely that the Continental dollar, as it became called, was intended as a somewhat more durable substitute for paper. During the Revolutionary War many varieties of Continental Currency paper money, values from less than $1 to $80, were printed and passed, but depreciated steadily in value, becoming essentially worthless by the early 1780s. Congress never did make good to the holders of such worthless notes. [Hmm. The government issuing paper money that proved to be of little worth. Imagine that!]
1858: In March the American Numismatic Society was launched by teenager Augustus B. Sage in his family’s apartment on Essex Street in New York City. This was an era in which the younger set—teenagers through the twenties and thirties—were the most dynamic elements of the hobby. [Wonder how many teenagers belong to the ANS today?]
1863: On February 25, 1863, the “Loan Bill,” better known as the National Banking Act, passed Congress. Under its provisions, all banks granted charters by the national government were allowed to deposit government bonds with the treasurer of the United States, after which they could issue notes in an amount limited to 90% of the par value of bonds so given. As circumstances would have it, the First National Bank of Davenport, Iowa, organized on June 22, 1863, Charter No. 15, was the very first National Bank in America to open its doors, not by intention but by mistake. Authorities in Washington, D.C., had instructed banks under the new charter system to start business on a given Monday, but someone misunderstood the directions. Apparently the notice arrived on Saturday, and the bank threw open its doors on that very day, beating everyone else by 48 hours! [Today, collecting National Bank notes is a foundation stone in the paper money hobby.]
1870: The Democratic donkey and other matters: The federal decennial census reported the United States population as 38,558,371, including about three million immigrants who had arrived in the preceding decade. On July 24, 1870, the first through railway cars from California reached New York City. On the high seas it was still an era of sail, and clipper ships could travel much faster than steam vessels (which accounted for about 16% of shipping). Despite the depredations of Buffalo Bill, an estimated four million bison were still alive on the plains. [Today some say there are too many bison—on coin designs, that is.] The donkey symbol to denote the Democratic party appeared for the first time in 1870, in the January 15th issue of Harper’s Weekly. In New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art was chartered on April 13th. In 1870 in the same city, the F.A.O. Schwarz toy store opened for business, and the first apartment building was built—a five-story walk-up. [Today in NYC you can still visit F.A.O. Schwarz, and we think that apartment buildings on average are a bit higher than five stories.] At the Mint the proliferation of unnecessary STANDARD SILVER dime, quarter, and half dollar lightweight patterns continued, to which were added numerous varieties of STANDARD silver dollars, although no one at the Mint seriously contemplated a new coinage of lightweight silver dollars. Proof coins of regular issues sold to collectors during this era were often struck from carelessly polished dies (this did not apply to silver dollars, however). In San Francisco, the cornerstone was laid for the new mint. In Carson City a new mint turned out its first coins of gold and silver. [Today we all love our Carson City coins!]
1874: Need to be fair and balanced with these items, so it is only fair to mention that in 1874 Thomas Nast would create the elephant as a symbol for the Republicans. Our sincere apologies to the Loco-Foco, Greenback, and Do Nothing party enthusiasts who are ignored in this little list of dates.
1878: On March 11 the first Morgan dollars for circulation were struck. No one envisioned that these would become the most popular of all 19th century coins for numismatists to collect. Actually, that popularity did not occur until many years later, beginning in a significant way in the 1950s.
1891: In November the American Numismatic Association was founded in Chicago. The Numismatist, which later was to become the official magazine of the ANA, had already been published since 1888.
1896: Gold coins held by Treasury: $121,746,000 • Gold coins in National Banks: $161,828,000 • Other gold coins: $251,011,000 • Total gold coins in U.S.: $534,585,000 • Total coins plus bullion: $589,233,000.
1933: The professional rare coin dealership of Stack’s was founded in New York City by brothers Joseph and Morton Stack. Their first auction was held in 1935. In 2011 the firm became part of Stack’s Bowers Galleries.
1946: Whitman Publishing Company published the first annual Guide Book of U.S. Coins, by Richard S. Yeoman. Bearing a cover date of 1947, it became immediately popular and has endured to this day. [Of lesser importance, no doubt, to those reading this: the bikini bathing suit was also invented this year.]
1949: Early American Cents, by Dr. William H. Sheldon, was published by Harper, and introduced a revised system of numerical grading (a concept published years earlier, including in The Numismatist in the 1890s) based on numbers from 1 to 70, this being part of a market formula to establish values of copper cents of the dates 1793-1814. The market formula proved to be an abject failure, but the “scientific” aspect of numbers caught on, and today the ANA Official Grading System for United States Coins, and other grading systems, are based on it.
2005: It seems that the Mint was all set, with its talented staff PLUS this, to produce new coins of wonderfully artistic designs: From Coin World, May 9, 2005: “U.S. Mint adds three artists to AIP, By Paul Gilkes The U.S. Mint added three outside artists to its complement of Artistic Infusion Program designers, who augment the Mint’s coin and medal design capabilities. The appointments fill the remaining two profes­sional artist vacancies, bringing the total to 20 pro­fessionals, and one student artist opening, bringing the student contingent to seven. Thirteen student artist vacancies on the AIP panel remain. When the Mint announced its AIP initiative in 2003, the intention was for 20 master designers and 20 associate designers. Several hundred applicants responded to the Mint’s first call for artists, from which 18 professional “master designers” and six student “associate designers” were selected. The 18 master designers and six associate design­ers who comprised the first team of AIP artists all reapplied and received one-year contract renewals from the Mint for the current calendar year.…”
2009: The Mint made four different reverse varieties of the Lincoln cent, but not as many as numismatists hoped for. So, instead of being exciting for citizens to seek and find, they have remained scarce in circulation. A lost opportunity for the hobby, it would seem.
2011: Over a billion Sacagawea and presidential dollar coins are piled up in government vaults. The coining presses are still spewing out millions. Why?

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