Obverse vs Reverse - Reason Added
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Which face of a U.S. coin is the obverse? According to this letter it's the one with the date. What do members think? What about the Lafayette commemorative dollar?

See the last post for additional information from Mint Bureau HQ.

 

Obverse.JPG

Edited by RWB

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Seems like the type of response you'd send when you really don't want to get into the details of a subject with somebody.  Here's the easiest answer, let's go with that.

Did you see the original query?  Was it for official business or personal?  I don't make a connection between that Committee and coin details readily.  Maybe for medals?

4.44 The standing Committee on the Militia was created on December 10, 1815, with jurisdiction over miscellaneous aspects of the militia organization and operation in the several States and the District of Columbia. The Committee's jurisdiction included fostering greater efficiency in the militia units, encouraging rifle practice, reorganizing the militia, and issuing armaments to the militia units and later to the National Guard or voluntary militia units that replaced them.

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Like the Lafayette dollar, the current Washington quarter design has the date on the reverse, so the rule does not apply in that case, either. Generally speaking, (in my opinion) it would be the side with the portrait or picture of Liberty. On coins without either, the side without the denomination would be the obverse. Of course there are exceptions, especially with commemoratives and other special issues. And,with a coin like the Norfolk - who knows?

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A lot of Canadian collectors seem to refer to the obverse as the side with the date, which confuses me since it's (almost?) always opposite the portrait.

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I think you just have to accept that it isn't universal and will always have exceptions.

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Does the Lafayette dollar actually have a "date?" It was struck in 1899 which does not appear on the coin. The 1900 year is when the memorial was dedicated.... Hmmm.

Has the US issued other analogous coins?

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From Wikipedia

"On June 20, 1899, Barber submitted the final designs for the coin. They were approved by Director Roberts on July 1. This did not put an end to the wrangles over what should be on the coin: the commission wished to have the coins dated 1900, but have them to sell as early as possible in 1899. Secretary of the Treasury Lyman Gage insisted on the provision of the Coinage Act of 1873 that required the date of production to appear on the coins. In the end, the matter was compromised: the pieces were struck in December 1899, not distributed until the following month, and the inscription "Paris 1900" appears on the coins."

I get the feeling, but have no proof, that other coins may have often been struck in December for the next mintage year. 1900 dime dies were received by San Francisco on December 12, 1899. By January 4, 1900, SF was complaining about die life. And "not distributed until the following month" is a lie - the secretary of state received the Lafayette dollar for delivery to Paris on or before 12/29/1899, so... sure, it was distributed to the President, but still.

Just Bob mentions commemoratives, which is what popped into my head too. The Columbian half dollar has two different dates on the "other side" (1892 & 1893), and the Pilgrim half dollar has only "1620 - 1920" on the "other side" for the ones minted in 1920, but for 1921, 1921 is on one side, and 1920 on the other. Two obverses! That's the best oddball I can think of.

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Hmmm....so if the date were also on the edge it might be possible to have a "Three-Headed Coin?"

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A Lafayette dollar was legal tender - even though it cost $2. Buying some and spending them on a new stove or range was a quick way to lose half your money.  :)

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39 minutes ago, RWB said:

A Lafayette dollar was legal tender - even though it cost $2. Buying some and spending them on a new stove or range was a quick way to lose half your money.  :)

Yeah. The older commems were $0.50 and people bought them for $1.00 or $1.50.

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2 hours ago, Revenant said:

Yeah. The older commems were $0.50 and people bought them for $1.00 or $1.50.

The US Mint recorded the Lafayette dollars at a nominal value of $1 - exactly the legal tender amount. Had the piece not been a legal tender, they would have been recorded like medals - at their precious metal content plus costs.

There is one oddity, though. There was no seignorage recorded for Lafayette dollars and the silver was not from typical sources.

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On 1/17/2020 at 6:00 PM, RWB said:

Does the Lafayette dollar actually have a "date?" It was struck in 1899 which does not appear on the coin. The 1900 year is when the memorial was dedicated.... Hmmm.

Has the US issued other analogous coins?

1900 is the generally accepted "date" of the coin.  The Norfolk half has 5 dates strewn about it, none of which were when the coin was issued.

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Yes, I know the discussion is on US coins but in Mexican coinage, by law, the obverse is the side with the arms (i.e. the eagle), and is not the side of the date (exceptions do exist like the 1921 2 pesos). Just a fact.

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This also happens to tie in with Abuelo's post. This letter from May O'Reilly states the reason the date side is the "obverse."

Page from RG 104 E-235 Vol 447.jpg

Edited by RWB

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Fascinating. You could really mess with people playing "heads or tails" depending on the coin you pick.

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11 hours ago, RWB said:

This also happens to tie in with Abuelo's post. This letter from May O'Reilly states the reason the date side is the "obverse."

 

So is the regulation as stated because the obverse was always the dated side?  Was there another regulation or law saying that the obverse side show the date?

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Through design of the 3-cent silver coin, the date was on the side having the "national symbol." But $1 and $3 violated that principle. Later circulation designs returned to "date on national symbol" side ("Liberty" being dominant over an eagle.)

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