USA Coin Album: The Coinage of 1958 — Conclusion

Posted on 6/11/2019

A year with some hidden treasures.

Last month I took a look at the cents and nickels of 1958. This study concludes with an examination of the remaining three denominations.

The sluggish economy in 1958 really affected dime mintage at Philadelphia, production there being just a fifth of what it had been the year before. The saving of BU (brilliant uncirculated) rolls was in full swing at the time, and this relatively low-mintage issue prompted considerable hoarding by speculators. Today 1958(P) dimes are sought not for their quantity but for their quality. Gems are common enough through MS 67, but those certified as having a Full Torch (FT) are very elusive, with just 60 certified by NGC to date. The 1958-D dimes never were the speculative darling that their Philly cousins were, but they, too, were hoarded by the BU roll and remain common through MS 67. Generally more sharply struck than 1958(P) dimes, this issue has 756 certified FT specimens.

1958-D 10C
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Like the cents and nickels, ordinary brilliant proofs of the 1958 dime are extremely common, with several hundred certified as PF 69 by NGC. Silver, being more lustrous than base metals, has led to a higher percentage of Cameo and Ultra Cameo coins than for the lesser denominations, but these are still scarce enough to carry strong premiums. The dimes of 1958 have little in the way of varieties, and all are quite minor.

1958 Proof 10C
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The Philadelphia Mint's production of quarter dollars likewise was greatly reduced in 1958. The yearly total was less than one seventh the number coined in 1957, and speculators quickly jumped on this seemingly scarce issue. When collecting Washington quarters from circulation in the 1960s, I never was able to find a 1958(P), as so much of its mintage was preserved unworn in rolls. Certification has proved that there's no real shortage of nice survivors, NGC having graded more than 500 pieces as MS 67 and even one amazing specimen as MS 68!

1958 25C
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Many 1958(P) quarters are prooflike to some degree, though rarely enough to be certified as such. The reason for their reflective fields is that the same dies previously had been used to strike proofs. As proof sales rose rapidly in the 1950s, the Philadelphia Mint began salvaging these worn dies routinely from 1956 through 1964. Actually, this bit of thrift was practiced for all five denominations, but only the quarters and half dollars can be identified definitively as having been coined from former proof dies. Each of these coins had a reverse hub for proofs that was separate from the one used to sink dies for circulating coins. In the case of the quarter, a separation between letters ES of STATES gives away the fact that the dies had been prepared for proofs and later used for currency strikes. These "Type B Reverse" coins are not truly rare, but they're scarce enough to carry a premium, and NGC attributes them under its VarietyPlus Service.

1958 25C Type B Reverse Close up
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The Denver Mint coined more than a dozen times as many quarters in 1958 as did its Philadelphia cousin. This fact demonstrates that the center of the nation's economic output was shifting westward and also that the 1957-58 recession hit the East much harder than the West. There are fewer certified gems of the 1958-D issue. In part this reflects the greater attractiveness of many 1958(P) quarters struck from former proof dies, but it's also true that D-Mint coins of the late 1950s and early 1960s typically have far more contact marks. Being less sought as singles until fairly recently, most of these coins were traded in BU bags for many years, getting tossed about as commodities rather than numismatic pieces. With no varieties of note for 1958-D, there was also little incentive to cherrypick singles from these bags and rolls.

1958-D 25C
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Proofs of the 1958(P) quarter follow suit with the dimes, as gems through PF 69 are plentiful. Certified Cameo examples are scarcer, but there are enough to satisfy the demand, while Ultra Cameo proofs are very rare for this date.

The recurring pattern of low Philadelphia Mint production versus high numbers from Denver is seen for the 1958 half dollars, too. The annual totals were 4,042,000 and 23,962,412, respectively. Both issues are common in lesser grades of mint state from the many rolls saved. Gems of the 1958(P) are plentiful through MS 66, but there are fewer for 1958-D. The reasons for this are probably the same as for quarters, noted above. Collectors seek this coin type with fully visible lines on the Liberty Bell (FBL), a feature often incomplete. In this instance it is the 1958-D half which is far more available, D-Mint coins of the period almost always being better struck.

1958 50C
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As with the quarters, Ultra Cameo proofs of the 1958 half dollar are very rare, though Cameo pieces are collectable at a modest premium. At least one reverse die made for proofs was subsequently used for currency strikes, and this is identifiable by its more well-defined eagle. This little known variety is highly sought by specialists.

1958 50C MS from PF Die Reverse Close up
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1958 was the final year in which the Mint's annual Uncirculated Sets were packaged in cardboard holders, and this material often imparted quite rich toning to the coins. The 1958-D half dollar illustrated is a prime example.

1958-D 50C
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1958 50C Proof
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To read additional USA Coin Album columns, click here.

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