MERELY OLD
(as opposed to ANCIENT)
COINS


I started out as a collector of US coins. As many people do, as a child I stashed away silver dollars and halves, Indian-head and wheat-back cents, buffalo nickels, and Mercury dimes. My treasure was an 1888 cent, and I was devastated when it disappeared.

Several years ago, my sister rekindled the flame, and I got more serious about them. Pretty soon, I had a fair selection of coins, the oldest being a barely readable 1798 half cent. One of my favorites is a plain old garden variety "Mercury" (Winged Liberty) dime.

Though a relatively common and inexpensive coin even in highest grades, this particular example is breathtakingly beautiful, with a nearly flawless surface showing full mint luster, and the reverse exhibiting the "fully split bands" that are so coveted in this series.

I was also happy to replace my lost, lamented 1888 Indian-Head with this gorgeous example:

Of course, the most beautiful US coin of all time is the "Walker" half, and I was thrilled to grace my collection with this nearly perfect example -- including a clearly struck face, which is very hard to find.

The "Barber" series of coins is widely collected for its beauty and distinctive styling, but the design didn't wear well. It's unusual to find coins in this series as good as this one, where the word "LIBERTY" is clearly visible in the headband and the portrait shows no sign of the usual flattening.

 

(The next two images are not to scale with the above coins -- relative to those, they are larger than they appear)

The Spanish "Pillar Dollar" or "Piece of Eight" (a "piece", or coin, worth eight reales), though not strictly a U.S. coin, was the coin of choice in the colonies, and was the model for the U.S. silver dollar coin. This nice example was minted in 1751 in Mexico City, and may very well have circulated in the colonies.

 

But the cornerstone of my US collection is my recently acquired pre-1800 "Draped Bust" dollar, minted in 1798. For the grade, it's quite an attractive coin. The wear on the obverse is remarkably even, and the toning nicely highlights the portrait and legend.


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