CV Coins and Collectibles

ANA Member
PCGS Currency Authorized Dealer

Overview of Coins and Paper
Chris Vomero
P.O. Box 73008
Phoenix, AZ 85050
Below is a general overview of some of the different denominations of U.S. Coins and some of the different types of Paper Money.

The Penny originated in 1793 as a much larger piece than we think of today (slightly smaller than a half dollar) and is typically referred to as a Large Cent.  This type includes some of the most sought after collector coins in the U.S. coin category. Pennies remained this size until 1856/1857 when the Flying Eagle Cent was introduced.  The size has been generally the same ever since. The Indian Cent came along in 1859 and lasted until 1909 with many valuable coins during that era. In 1909 the Lincoln Cent was introduced with a wheat stalk reverse and this lasted until 1958.  The 1909 S VDB is generally considered the key date to this series with some other better date coins in different years. Then, 1959 brought about the new Lincoln Memorial design to the penny, which is the penny that most of us know today.  In a typical assortment of coins there are often Lincoln Wheat Cents and many times an Indian Cent or two.  Sometimes a Large Cent or other type are present and with pennies, it is always a good idea to have any expert view them.  The values can range from 2 cents for a common wheat cent to high dollar values for the scarce dates and varieties.  It is always a good idea to have an expert view them to determine their actual value.

Nickels and Half Dimes:
The original 5 cent piece was the Half Dime.  This was made of silver and was half the size of the standard dime.  The early half dimes, as with many other denominations, shared the same design styles.  Some of the early designs were the Flowing Hair, Bust and then the Seated style.  The term nickel for a 5 cent piece did not come along until the mid 1800's with the actual coin composition changing from silver to nickel and copper.  The early nickel designs were the Shield, the Liberty or V, the Buffalo and the one we know today, the Jefferson.  In a typical assortment of coins, there are often Buffalo nickels and sometimes the other varieties as well.  These can range from relatively common to quite scarce and valuable and are always worth having a trained eye take a look to determine scarcity and value.

The Dime originated in the late 1700's with the other denominations.  The designs were the flowing hair, bust, seated and barber originally.  Then in 1916 the design changed to what is called the Mercury or Winged Liberty Dime.  This first year saw the rare date 1916 - D, which is always sought after by collectors. The next design was the Roosevelt Dime which we see today.  The dimes prior to 1965 were made of 90% silver and along with the 1916 - D, there are some key dates and scarce varieties that bring substantial premiums.  Dimes can be quite valuable and should always be viewed by an expert to distinguish the scarce from the common.

The Quarter originated in the late 1700's as well and the first design was the Draped Bust, followed by the Capped Bust, the Seated and The Barber.  Then in 1916 a new design was sought and the Standing Liberty Quarter was created.  The 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter is one of the most sought after coins and is quite scarce.  The new quarter lasted through 1930 and in 1932 the Washington Quarter was introduced, and this is basically the design we use today.  Prior to 1965 quarters were made of 90% silver and are sought for that reason today.  Each series has its scarce dates and better varieties as well.  Having a trained eye look over them to determine the accurate value is very important.

Half Dollars:
The Half Dollar originated in the late 1700's as well and followed similar design patters, the Flowing Hair, Bust, Seated and Barber.  Like the dime and quarter, the Half Dollar would be in for a new design in 1916.  This new half was referred to as the Walking Liberty Half Dollar and is one of the more popular coins in United States Coinage.  Following the Walking Liberty was the Franklin Half and then the Kennedy Half which we see today.  Prior to 1965 half dollars were 90% silver as well, but unlike the dime and quarter, the 1965 - 1970 halves contained 40% silver. There are many surprising better date half dollars, some of which are quite scarce.  As with the others, having an expert view them is always a good idea. 

The Dollar followed suit with many of the other denominations early on debuting in the late 1700's.  The first design was the Flowing Hair and followed with the Draped Bust, but production stopped in 1804.  The next circulation dollar to be used was the Seated Dollar in 1840.  in 1873 the trade dollar was introduced and mostly was used for trade with the Far East.  Then in 1878, the Morgan Dollar was created and produced without interruption until 1904 and then again in 1921. The last silver dollar was the Peace Dollar, which was produced in 1921 and used until 1935.  The 1935 is the last year of a circulation dollar with silver content.  The next dollar to be made was the Eisenhower Dollar in 1971, but other than collector editions, this new dollar did not contain any silver. Silver dollars are often present in a persons collection.  Although many of these may be from the 1800's there are scarce and common ones alike.  The range can be from around $20 up to very high dollar levels for the truly rare and high end pieces.  Dollars just like the other denominations should always be carefully sorted to determine the actual value.

Gold Coins:
The United States Gold coins were introduced in the late 1700's as well.  Initially there were the $2.50 (Quarter Eagle), the $5.00 (Half Eagle) and the $10 (Eagle).  These were the three denominations until the mid 1800's, and then came the $1, $3, $4 and the $20 Double Eagle.  The $4 was never produced in large numbers and is a true rarity in any condition today. The $20 Double Eagle was first struck in 1850 with the Liberty design similar to the original three denominations.   Mainly it was created due to the discovery of gold in California.  The Double Eagle was changed in 1907 to the St. Gaudins design and is considered one of the most beautiful coins ever produced. Double Eagles contain almost an ounce of gold and even the common dates bring close to the current gold spot price.  As with previous denominations all varieties of gold coins have many scarce dates and varieties that bring large premiums over the gold value and should always be studied by an expert.

Paper Money:
Prior to the 1860's paper money was not backed by the Treasury.  It was produced and distributed by individual banks.  Then in 1862 the first Treasury backed notes were produced and the Treasury has backed them in some way ever since.  There were different types, from Legal Tender Notes, to Silver and Gold Certificates, to the National Currency Program.  The Silver and Gold Certificates were redeemable for silver and gold coin.  The National Bank Notes were introduced to give confidence to the small town banks all across the country.  A bank could apply for a charter and deposit a certian amount of money in the Treasury.  The Treasury would then print money for the that amount with the banks name on it.  Today we distinguish paper money in two main categories, large and small size.  The small size that we use today was introduced in 1928 and replaced the larger style notes that were used from the 1860's up until the 1920's.  Many small size notes are common like silver certificates and $2 bills, but as with anything else it is always good to have them viewed by an expert.  Large size notes can range from quite scarce and valuable to relatively inexpensive and are always worth having an expert look them over. 

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