The Atlantic published a short article this week highlighting the 1804 silver dollar and other notorious U.S. coins.
Check it out.
No collection in America has more storied coins than the National Museum of American History.
In the gallery below, we've collected five of their most famous pieces, with descriptions
inspired from my conversation with curator Dr. Richard Doty.
1804 SILVER DOLLAR
Long story short: This coin is an 1850s counterfeit of a 1830s coin that says "1804."
It is the illegal replica of a coin that never should have existed in the first place.
And it is quite possibly the most famous American coin in the world.
What makes a coin expensive, anyway? "The biggest thing is demand," says Dr. Richard Doty,
a curator at National Numismatic Collection at the National Museum of American History.
"You can have a roman coin that is 2,000 years old and unique, but if there is no demand or legend around it, it's nothing, "he said.
In 1909, for Lincoln's 100th birthday, the U.S. Mint made half a million Lincoln pennies
designed and by Victor David Brenner, who engraved his initials on the reverse. The
government wasn't pleased, and so Brenner was told to leave off the initials on subsequent
issues. Still, about half a million pennies with Brenner's initials were released. Coin
collectors suddenly realized that the coin would be scarce enough to be valuable and
interesting enough to generate high demand. Today it's probably the most popular American
one-cent piece ever made.
"A coin has to have notoriety," Doty says. "If you have three collectors and two coins
you have a market. If you have three coins and two collectors you don't."
To read the complete article, see:
The Amazing History of the Most Notorious U.S. Coin
Wayne Homren, Editor
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