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  • Writer's pictureDouglas Keefe

The Gold and Silver Mine Nineteenth Century Type Set of Coins

Collecting a type set of coins from the Nineteenth Century is much more challenging than the Twentieth Century coins I described last week. By 1800, the first year of the Nineteenth Century, the Philadelphia Mint had been in operation only 7 years and had only be minting coins of all needed denominations for 5, starting with the lower denomination coins first, as these were the most needed by citizens to conduct business. As the century progressed, designs changed, denominations were eliminated and new designs were tried and dropped, making for an interesting and diverse collection. There are no prohibitively expensive coins in the collection, but if one were to attempt assembling one, and I recommend choosing coins in “fine” condition as a minimum, be prepared to spend in the neighborhood of five thousand dollars minimum. I chose “fine” condition because the major part of the coin is visible, but in some cases a coin of one or several grades higher can be purchased for only a few dollars more.

So let’s see what coins are included in a Nineteenth Century type set. I know my descriptions will not convey a picture to my readers, but there are too may to picture with this article, so if you want to see what the coins look like and you don’t possess a coin catalog, just GOOGLE each one and a great image will appear.

Half Cent: (a coin initially in demand, but as prices rose, ultimately became obsolete): Draped Bust, (1800-1808; Classic Head, {1809-1836); Braided Hair, (1849-1857).

Large Cent: (one cent coins were initially the size of today’s quarters, which represented the value of the copper they contained and followed the designs of the half cents); Draped Bust, (1800-1807); Classic Head, (1808-1814), Coronet Head, (1816-1839), Braided Hair, (1839-1857)

Small Cent: (By the mid 1850’s it was evident there was more copper in the large cent coins than one cents worth, so the coin was reduced in size which also made it easier to carry. The size was reduced to that of today, initially made of a combination copper and nickel, then to a copper-zinc combination); Flying Eagle (1856-1858). Indian Cent copper nickel (1859-1864), copper-zinc (1864-1899).

Two Cents: (one of those experiments with odd designs that seemed like a good idea at the time); (1864-1872). This coin was the first to bear the motto ”IN GOD WE TRUST”.

Three Cents: (another attempt to make a coin that could be useful because the rate of postage at the time was 3 cents); silver composition, large star (1851-1853); small star, three lines (1854-1858); small star, two lines (1859-1873); nickel composition (1865-1889).

Five Cents: Shield, with rays (1866-1867); with out rays (1867-1883); Liberty Head, without cents (1883); with cents (1883-1899).

Half Dime: (that was the name of the original five cent coin as it contained half the amount of silver as a dime); Draped Bust (1800-1805); Capped Bust (1829-1837); Seated Liberty (1837-1873); no stars (1837-1838), no drapery (1838-1840,; stars on reverse (1839-1859), arrows at date (1853-1855), legend reverse (1860-1873). After 1873 the half dime became obsolete, replaced with the five cent nickel coin.

Dime: Draped Bust (1800-1807); capped bust, large ((1809-1829), small (1829-1837); Seated Liberty, (1837-1891) same varieties as the half dime with the exception of 1873-1875 when arrows were added at the date to signify a change in the amount of silver in the coin. Barber Dime (the name of the person who designed the coin); (1892-1899).

Twenty Cents: (an example of a coin that wasn’t wanted or needed); (1875-1876).

Quarter Dollar: Draped Bust (1804-1807); Capped Bust large size (1815-1828); small size (1831-1838); Liberty Seated; (1838-1891); no drapery (1838-1840), no motto (1840-1865), arrows and rays (1853), arrows at date (1854-1855), from 1866-1899 the quarter dollars had the same designs as the dimes.

Half Dollars: Draped Bust (1801-1807); Capped Bust (1807-1839); reeded edge, “50 CENTS” (1836-1837), reeded edge, “HALF DOL.” (1838-1839); Seated Liberty (1839-1891); no drapery (1839); from 1841-1899 half dollar designs were the same as quarter dollars.

Dollar: Draped Bust (1800-1803); Seated Liberty (1840-1873); no motto (1840-1865), with motto (1866-1873); Mogan Dollar (the name of the person who designed the coin); (1878-1899).

Trade Dollar (a coin designed for use in foreign trade, notably in the Orient): (1873-1878).

As you can see, a Nineteenth Century type collection is extensive and is comprised of a variety of different coins of varying designs, a tribute to the artistic work of those who designed them. The most expensive coin in the set is the Bust Dollar, a fine condition costing around $3000.

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