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  1. It's nothing but a coin with a uniform black cupric oxide coating, created by heat such as holding a little above a gas flame. Absolutely no numismatic value so far as this poster is concerned.
  2. Relating to the “MS-68” 1848-CAL quarter eagle mentioned on another message board site, here is a little follow-up research information that might be of interest. The coins were very special to all concerned and the best quality was desired. Time was short and there was no desire to create a special die for the pieces. A pair of new dies were quickly polished and coins struck to the capacity of the California gold available. This created a small group of proof-like coins followed by pieces with gradually smoothing surfaces as the dies wore. (Planchets were not polished.) Once all the coins were struck, the obverse dies was removed from the upper die chuck of the toggle press and fixed in a vise. Coins were carefully placed individually in the obverse die and the reverse “CAL” logo punched into the coins. The logo was evidently held in place with a jig similar to that used to place lettering in master dies. (Notice the raised metal surrounding each CAL letter caused by metal being pushed out and upward due to displacement.) The logo was likely prepared by the Engraver, Longacre, but the work performed by someone in the Coining Department. This was normal procedure at that time.
  3. Suggest you buy a copy of the Guide Book of United States Coins (aka "Red Book") and familiarize yourself with the appearance, diameter and weight of legitimate US coins. Also, numerous web sites, including NGC's, offer high quality photos of coins so you can compare details. As others said, the items pictured are counterfeit. Get a refund and never buy anything from this seller again.
  4. This might help better understand the document. Terms: Clipping – metal strip remaining after blanks are cut, also condemned blanks/planchets/coin. Filing – metal filed off of blanks to reduce weight to standard. Sweep – metal recovered from used crucibles, aprons, bags, gloves, tools, flux, etc. Ground to dust in the Mint’s basement using a “Chili Grinder.” Well Sweep – All wash water (including lavatory hand washing) was pumped to a well. This was cleaned annually and the metal recovered. Grain – Particles recovered from under the floor grating, edge of crucibles, etc. [See From Mine to Mint for details and photos of flooring and a grinder.] Central part of page under “Delivered in Settlement” can be confusing. Here is the translation: Follow “Filing Bar No. 1” from left to right. The bar weight was 555.25 ounces, and it assayed at 893 fine. That gives a total pure gold weight of 495.83825 ounces pure – but the table shows “550.93” ounces….What’s wrong? This is the Coining Department and all gold and silver in the department is 900 fine, not 1.000 fine (pure). The numbers in the next to right column are in Standard Gold which is 900 fine. To get the correct metal weight in Standard Gold we have to divide pure ounce weight by .900, which gives 550.931 ounces. Per cent wastage is the percent of the legal allowance. The statement value of “11.94” percent is correct except for a rounding error on the last digit – the correct value is 11.95%.
  5. Haven't come across the circular as yet, but will post it if located. :)
  6. This table is a Fiscal Year summary of Coining Department operations at New Orleans for 1900 (July 1, 1899-June 30, 1900). Take particular notice of the multiple sources of "waste" gold recovery and the tiny actual loss of metal compared to the legal allowance. Operations at San Francisco and Philadelphia were much larger but all followed the same general metal recovery procedures.
  7. Lobbying for a mint, or military base, Naval shipyard or other Federal facility was a traditional pastime of city and state officials. Such a facility was "free money & free jobs" with guaranteed stability and fair wages for local workers. members of Congress and state "business development authorities" do the same now -- how about a NASA facility in the middle of Alabama or Mississippi; move a statistical management office from Washington (where they can work easily with others) to the middle of a soy bean patch. Looking at the long progression of US Mint letters, at times it seems that every city with more than 10 people and maybe a train station wanted a mInt. How about Nome, Alaska, Chicago, St. Louis, Cleveland, Salt Lake City, New York City, on and on.... :)
  8. The Carson Mint has long fascinated collectors. Here's a letter (one of several on the subject) noting why the Director wants it closed. November 5, 1885 Hon. Daniel Manning, Secretary of the Treasury Sir: I have the honor to state that since the issue of your orders of May 30 and June 11, 1885, the business of the United States Mint at Carson City, Nevada, has been practically insignificant; the total amount of deposits from July 1 to September 30, 1885, was gold 518 standard ounces, silver 151 [ounces]. There seem no immediate prospect of such as an increase in the deposits at this Mint as to warrant its continuance as at present as an assay office. As it is not needed for coinage purposes, the suspension of the Assayer and the Melter & Refiner is respectfully suggested for the consideration of the President. It is also recommended that authority be given me to close the Mint at Carson to the receipt of deposits, and to discharge the clerks, assistants and workmen there employed. In view of the fact that the Mint at Carson contained a large amount of valuable machinery and apparatus, for the preservation of which care is required, it is proposed that the Superintendent be continued, at least until Congress make some further provision in the premises. Very respectfully, James P. Kimball, Director
  9. At times, Mint Director James Kimball could be unusually “direct” when writing to one of the mint superintendents – in this case, Daniel Fox of the Philadelphia Mint. "October 12, 1885 Sir: Referring to your communication of the 10th instant forwarding a circular which you wish to have printed relative to the class of gold received at your Mint, I would say that the circular forwarded is objectionable and incomplete in so many particulars that it will be retained in the Bureau until such time as a general circular to all of the Mints and Assay Offices can be prepared for the approval of the Secretary, covering the subject. Very Respectfully, James P. Kimball Director" [ RWB – By “class of gold” Kimball refers to fine and standard gold bars, high purity gold bullion, gold dust and nuggets, jewelry, watch cases and plated items.]
  10. There are earlier, legitimate examples of casual use of obsolete dies on experimental pieces - typically to illustrate the scale of a proposed coin. But not in 1868 with large cents. Are the 1868 things pure copper or bronze? Anyone test them?
  11. Very nice article. I wish that all collectors would read Mr. Lang's articles and other publications. They are packed with solid information, clearly written and readily accessible. On the letter, above, Kimball relents when Chapman and some others complained. Kimball then ordered proofs made in sufficient quantity to avoid speculation and profiteering. This was also why "small" circulation runs of other coins were made. Kimball's role seems to have been to "clean up shop" after Linderman, Burchard and Snowden. He changed many record keeping practices and demanded full explanation for anything that seemed irregular. He also went after Linderman's pattern pieces in his Estate auction sale, but the Solicitor General told Kimball he was "off-base."
  12. It's a set of commemorative coins but they were not struck as mirror-finish proof coins. I bought their set of commemorative Magic Lima Beans, but delayed planting them. Probably won't grow into food for golden egg laying geese.... :(
  13. Well, to start with, the 1832 half is what a polished coin looks like. Go to the Heritage archives and look for proof like bust halves. There you will see photos of the real thing. (I hope you can return those to the seller.)
  14. "Spam" ---- What the Brits ate instead of meat for 15 years after WW-II ended.
  15. Interesting decision by Mint Director Kimball. His purpose was to avoid striking any denomination not needed for circulation, and to issue proofs only for those same denominations. This was eventually countermanded, but for a while things looked bleak for Chapman, Brown, Gies and ordinary coin collectors.