Every coin tells a story. But few more than America’s eight most notorious coins…
Right now the U.S. collectible coin market is an absolute minefield. It is the most competitive coin collecting market in the world. In fact, every one of the top ten most valuable coins of all time is from the U.S.
Some of these coins date back to the 1800’s and all of them are extremely famous. Let me tell you why…
Indian Head Penny (1859-1909)
The Indian Head Penny is famous for celebrating Native Americans, but it actually doesn’t show a Native American.
According to legend, designer James B. Longacre used a portrait of his 12 year old daughter, Sarah, wearing a headdress. It is, however, more likely that the portrait was based on a classical Greco-Roman statue Venus Accroupie (Crouching Venus).
Either way, the ‘Indian’ is not a Native American! The obverse features the head of Lady Liberty wearing a headdress, while the reverse depicts a wreath as well as the words ‘One Cent’ and a shield in the middle at the top of the coin.
Morgan Silver Dollar (1878-1921)
For the new silver dollar, designer George T. Morgan decided to portray Liberty as a goddess, inspired by Philadelphian school teacher, Anna Williams who had a fair complexion, Grecian nose and golden hair. Morgan eventually persuaded Anna Williams to sit as the model for Liberty for the obverse of the Morgan Silver Dollar.
In 1878 artists’ models were considered immoral, therefore, Morgan publicly stated that the model was a statue in a Philadelphia museum. Word soon leaked out, however, and it is rumoured that Williams was fired from her teaching job!
‘No Cents’ Liberty Head Nickel (1883)
When the new Liberty Head Nickel was issued in 1883, the denomination was nowhere to be seen, instead a large ‘V’ (Roman ‘5’) was on the reverse.
The coins were the size of the $5 gold coin in circulation at the time which created an opportunity for unscrupulous crooks who came up with a cunning plan to pass them off as $5 by gold plating the new nickels and cutting reeds into the edge by hand. The U.S Mint soon became aware and within a few weeks the design was changed to include the word ‘Cents’ under the ‘V’. The ‘No Cents’ coins are also known as ‘Racketeer’ Nickels.
Lincoln Penny (1909)
Designer Victor David Brenner added his ‘VDB’ initials to the new Lincoln Penny design in 1909 which was issued to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.
While the public generally loved the Lincoln cent when it was first released, they didn’t like the prominence of Brenner’s initials. The U.S. Mint quickly removed the initials as it appeared as though Brenner was either boasting or advertising. This was the first cent to feature Abraham Lincoln’s motto ‘In God we trust’ on the obverse.
Morgan Dollar (1921)
When notorious outlaws Bonnie and Clyde were shot and killed by police in 1934, a 1921 Silver Morgan Dollar was recovered from the jacket of Clyde Barrow among other possessions. The outlaw lovers were believed to have committed 13 robberies among other felonies between 1932 and 1934.
The hunt for the duo captured the nation’s imagination during the Great Depression and their fame was heightened by their practice of leaving glamourous photos of themselves at crime scenes.
Even more so now, the 1921 coin is forever associated with Bonnie and Clyde.
Roosevelt Dime (1946)
In 1945 plans were quickly laid for the introduction of a new coin to honour Roosevelt after his passing. The task was assigned to John Ray Sinnock and coinage began in 1946. Controversy soon arose because sculptor Selma Burke claimed that Sinnock had stolen her design without giving her credit, however Sinnock strongly denied this.
In addition, conspiracy theorists claimed that Sinnock’s initials ‘JS’ (at the base of Roosevelt’s neck) actually referred to Russian leader Joseph Stalin because of Roosevelt’s supposed ‘communist’ learnings.
Franklin Half Dollar (1948)
The Franklin Half Dollar was designed by John R. Sinnock and his ‘JS’ initials were again seen by conspiracy theorists as a tribute to Joseph Stalin.
In addition, the crack on the Liberty Bell was controversial, some people saw it as a statement that Liberty in the United States was under threat (despite the fact that the image exactly reflects the bell’s appearance).
Finally, what appears to be a small ‘o’ and large ‘F’ on the reverse (‘oF’ in the United States of America) was rumoured to be a mistake and that the Mint would recall all 1948 coins to correct the ‘error’.
Anthony Dollar (1979)
The Anthony Dollar was revolutionary – the first circulating coin to feature a historical woman. Susan B. Anthony was an author and protest speaker among other titles but best known as President of the National American Suffrage Association. The coin was also the first small-sized Dollar that was issued for wide circulation.
However, it quickly became notorious – and almost universally rejected – because it was the same colour and about the same size as a quarter. Therefore, it was often mistaken for a Quarter, and the public refused to use it! (Interestingly, it is now a sought-after collector’s item.)
You can own all eight of these coins in ‘The Infamous, Notorious and Scandalous U.S. Coin Set’.
At this year’s American Numismatic Association World Money Fair in Chicago there is one coin everyone is talking about – the world’s first maple leaf-shaped coin.
Struck by The Royal Canadian Mint for Modern Numismatics International, this impressive Fine Silver $20 Coin is shaped like Canada’s iconic maple leaf and has such intricate engraving you can even see the veins in the leaf itself.
The Canadian Mint are known for their innovation and this is new release is no exception.
But it doesn’t stop there. They have even created a bespoke red maple leaf-shaped box complete with viewing window to add to the coins appeal.
Perhaps unsurprisingly this coin is set to be one of the fastest selling issues of 2015, with the Mint selling out of their allocation in 2 days.
The show ends on Saturday but this is certainly a coin that will be sought-after by collectors for many months to come.
The Westminster Collection has secured a limited stock of these stunning coins and you can add one to your collection today.
But you’ll have to be quick, it’s unlikely this opportunity will come up again.
Did you know today is Canada day? 148 years ago Canada became a country in its own right. Whilst the anniversary may be a bit of a stretch for us to celebrate, we can certainly appreciate the work of the Royal Canadian Mint over the last few years. Here are just 5 of my favourite coins, each of which demonstrates why Canada is now a world leader in numismatics…
A first for the Royal Canadian Mint…
The beautiful detail of this coin makes it one of my favourites and is without a doubt a numismatic masterpiece. The 2015 5oz silver Maple Leaf is the first ever 5oz coin struck by the Royal Canadian Mint to feature a hologram. The maple leaf is the quintessential national symbol of Canada and this coin is the latest to be released as part of their popular annual 5oz Maple Leaf release. Each coins hologram has been individually struck directly onto the coin resulting in an extremely precise and detailed finish. 90% of the worldwide 1,500 edition limit has been sold already – which isn’t all that surprising considering it is 1,000 coins less than last years sell-out 5oz issue!
The start of a remarkable collecting story…
Canada’s early history is one of exploration and discovery. This ‘Voyageur’ 3 coin set tells a truly fascinating story about Canada’s heritage and to me there is nothing better than owning a coin that depicts a significant part in the history of a country. The ‘Voyageur’ is the design that depicts Canada’s humble beginnings which was shaped by explorers and native aboriginals. This set pays special tribute to the iconic Canadian ‘Voyageur’ Dollar. An original 1935 dollar, the 75th anniversary issue, and the $20 for $20 canoe tribute are included in this 3 coin set. The edition limit for this special numismatic set is just 495 worldwide. This is testament to just how hard it is to acquire these three coins together.
The coin with a hidden message…
Just 495 limited edition sets were issued to mark the 70th Anniversary of VE Day. The set includes an original Victory nickel coin and the new 2015 5-Cent victory coin. The new 2015 5-cent coin is almost twice the size of the original and struck in pure silver with selective gold-plating. I consider these coins to feature one of the most interesting and carefully thought out designs. If you look closely you can see The Morse code has been carefully engraved around the edge of the reverse of the coins.
Cutting edge in coin security…
Limited to 2,500, this coin is another example of the craftsmanship and design expertise of the Royal Canadian Mint. The Silver Maple Leaf coin is issued annually but not only does it radiate elegance, it sports an advanced micro engraved design that is only visible under magnification. The design is textured which enables the coin to achieve a light-diffracting effect, in my opinion this intensifies user experience. The illuminating effect this coin portrays makes it a stunning creation and offers the perfect mix of collectible beauty and investment appeal.
Already set to be the best selling coin of 2015…
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Canada’s Flag, so to celebrate the Royal Canadian Mint has increased the face value of their usual $20 coins to $25 and issued the design in full colour. The red and white Maple Leaf flag beautifully captures such an important anniversary for Canada and guarantees to increase interest for collectors of Canadian coins. The Fine Silver Canadian Flag Coin coin is already set to be the best selling coin of 2015 for the Royal Canadian Mint and limited to just 1,500 pieces, it is almost certain to be a sell-out.
These are just a handful of the fascinating coins issued by The Royal Canadian Mint, all of which differ in size, colour and age. It is a day like today that makes me appreciate the creativity and effort put into the coins issued by the Royal Canadian Mint since they were founded in 1908.
If you’re interested….
The Westminster Collection has limited stock of these issues available to order today.