United States Silver Mint Marks.

The Three Cent Silver Piece

Was issued at the New Orleans Mint in 1851 only. It is found in many collections as a variety, and is not rare, though having but an eighth of that first year's coinage in Philadelphia. The O is conspicuously placed within the points of the large C on the reverse.

The Half Dime.

This very interesting little coin, which was the first authorized by the United States Government, and coined at Philadelphia in 1792, is also in the front rank of Branch Mint issues. As such it was peculiarly the coin of the people, for in the extreme South and West no smaller denomination has ever been in use. It was struck in New Orleans, with a number of Dimes and a few specimen Half Dollars, in 1838 when that early Branch Mint was organized. The Half Dime coinage continued there annually until 1860, with the exception of the years 1843, '45, '46, and '47. The civil war then terminated the O mint coinage, but in 1863 the San Francisco Mint took its place and coined Half Dimes annually, with the exception of the year 1870, until 1873, when, as the nickel piece had proved more convenient, the coin was abolished. Its fixed limits and never-conflicting mint pieces add to the interest and economy of possessing a set, as no annual addition is involved. The O mint series numbers nineteen dates, but successive varieties found extend the writer's set to at least thirty-six.

The O Mint Half Dime Coinage

These pieces are as follows: 1838 (of which the issue is not recorded in the Mint Report) is without stars, with a large O in the wreath on the reverse, and is rare. There is also a variety with stars and a small o, which is very rare. 1839 is with stars (as are all to 1860), and has a small o. There are, apart from the perfect die, two varieties of broken dies. In one the break is from the elbow to the nearest star; in the other the break is on the reverse from the O of 'OF' to the L Of 'HALF.' 1840 is found with and without the sleeve. The former has a small o, and is very rare; the latter has both the small o, which is rare, and the large O variety, which is very rare. 1841 has large O and small o varieties, both being scarce. 1842 has a small o only, and is very rare. There was no coinage in 1843. 1844 has a large O, which is very rare, and a small o, which is rare. In 1845, '46, and '47 there was no O mint coinage. 1848 has a large O and a small o, both rare. 1849 has a large O only, and is the rarest O mint half dime. 1850 has a large O and a small o, the latter being very rare. 1851 has a large O. 1852 has the same only, and is very rare. The large O continues in 1853, of which date there are two varieties, one with arrows, being common, and one without, rare. There is also an exceedingly rare variety with a broken die, which gives the date the appearance of being over '51. 1854 has a large O, which is sometimes close to the letters and sometimes to the bowknot. It is a common enough date. 1855 has a large O, and is scarce. 1856 has a large O, and high and low date varieties. 1857 has a high oval O and a low round o. 1858 has a large O, and the ribbon and stem at right touching in one variety and well apart in another. 1859 has a large O with high and low varieties, both being scarce. 1860 is without stars, the legend replacing them, and has a different wreath on the reverse. The o is small, and, for the first time, is under the wreath instead of within it. There are high O and low o varieties.

We have also two worn specimens of 1837 without stars, and sufficient traces of a small o in the proper place to convince us that some Half Dimes were coined experimentally in New Orleans in that year with a die similar to the one then used in Philadelphia, although the New Orleans Mint was not regularly organized until 1838. As the coinage of Half Dimes at New Orleans in the latter year was not recorded, though well known, we are the more assured of the authenticity of our '37 O mint pieces which were found in New Orleans, and we consider them excessively rare.

While the half dime of '37, without stars, was coined in Philadelphia that variety of '38 was issued only at New Orleans, all struck at the parent mint having stars. The rare 0 mint dates we review in order, 1849, '44, '42, '52, '38, and '48, the rarest first.

The S Mint Half Dime Coinage

Bears a very small Mint Mark, which, with one exception, is under the wreath. The dies of the coin are those of the same date of the New Orleans and Philadelphia Mints, a seated Liberty surrounded by "United States of America" and a wreath of wheat, &c., on the reverse.

The first five dates, 1863, '64, '65, '66, and '67, were of small coinage, and are scarcer than most of the preceding O dates, but by no means as rare as the similar Philadelphia dates, whose places they generally hold in collections. 1864 is the scarcest of the five, followed by '63. 1868 and '69 are more common. In 1870 no Half Dimes were coined in San Francisco. 1871 is the only date with the S within the wreath, and is exceedingly scarce. 1872 and '73 have the S below as usual, and the latter is somewhat scarce. We have discovered no varieties in the S mint coinage, our set thus numbering ten pieces.

Since the Half Dime was abolished in 1873 the inconvenience of the small piece has resulted in the annual remittance to the Treasury and the Mints of hundreds of dollars worth which street car companies, etc., are glad to have destroyed. Consequently very few Half Dimes now exist in circulation; their general scarcity and rarity is augmenting, and the small space a collection occupies will assure them ever increasing favor.

The Dime

Has been coined at New Orleans, San Francisco, and Carson City.

The O Mint Dime Coinage

Has several sizes of the indicative letter which may be classified in three: the large, which is about the height of the letters of the legend "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" on the coin, the medium, about two-thirds, and the small, about one-half or rather less.

The complete series of dates and the varieties found are as follows:

1838, the first date coined, is a piece without stars or legend around the seated Liberty on the obverse, and with a large O under "ONE DIME," and within the wreath on the reverse. It is quite scarce. 1839 has thirteen stars around the figure on the obverse, which continue until noted beyond. The reverse is in general the same as '38, but offers two varieties, a medium and a small o. 1840, which we have seen 'without drapery' only, has also two varieties a, large O and a small o. 1841 has a small o. 1842 has a small o. 1843 has a small o, and is quite scarce. There was no coinage in 1844. 1845 has a large O, and is scarce. In 1846, '47, and '48 there were no Dimes coined at New Orleans. 1849 has two varieties, a large O and a small o, and is somewhat scarce. 1850 has a large O and a small o. 1851 has a large O. 1852 has a large O. 1853 has a large O, and is the first Dime with arrowheads. We have seen no variety of 1853 O without. 1854 has a large O and arrowheads. There was no coinage in 1855. 1856 has a large O and a medium o, and the arrows are abandoned. We have also a large O variety with the legend so faintly struck as to be hardly perceptible. The large date '56 is found only in Philadelphia coinage. 1857 has a large O. 1858 has a large O, and is scarce. 1859 has a large O and a medium o placed lower than usual. In 1860 the stars give place to the legend, and on the reverse the o is very small, and for the first time appears under the changed wreath, as in the Half Dime of the same date. The 1860 O Dimes is of very small issue, exceedingly rare, and a great prize.

At this period the civil war occasioned a long interval in O mint coinage, and not until 1891 were Dimes again struck. The piece of that date resumes the design of 1860 on obverse and reverse, but has a medium o under the wreath in two varieties, one well centered and one close to right ribbon. In 1892 the seated Liberty is replaced by a wreathed head facing to the right, and the wreath on the reverse is changed in various slight details. The O continues of medium size under the wreath. 1893 is similar in all respects to 1892

The years of no coinage being 1844, '46, '47, '48, and '55, five in all, it will be seen that the dates of the O series from 1838 to '93, inclusive, number twenty-one, to which the addition of seven varieties named make twenty-eight as the complete set. The smaller o of six of these varieties is uniformly rarer than the large one.

The S Mint Dime Coinage.

The mint mark letter S identifying this series may also, as in the proceding, be divided into three sizes: The large, being somewhat larger than the letters of the legend, the medium, somewhat smaller, and the small, about half their height and quite minute.

1856 is the first date of this series, the date being always small. Stars surround the seated Liberty, the obverse and reverse dies being similar to the O mintage of the same period. The S is large and in the wreath. The piece is rare. No 1857 Dime was coined at San Franeisco. 1858 has a medium s, and in other respects is similar. It is rare. 1859 has a medium s, and is also rare. 1860 is especially interesting from continuing the stars when the O and P coinages of this date had discarded them. A medium s remains within the wreath. It is scarce. In 1861 the new dies, with a legend around the figure and the wreath of oak and wheat, were used. A small s first appears and is placed under the wreath. 1862 is the same. 1863 continues these characteristics, and is rather scarce, but the Philadelphia dates from '63 to '67 are all far rarer than the S coinage. 1864 S is like '63, and is comparatively common. 1865 continues the small s below the wreath, as does 1866. The latter is scarce. 1867 is scarce also and similar in detail, except the S is not quite so small. 1868 and 1869, however, continue the minute s. 1870 is unchanged, but a small coinage makes it very rare. 1871 is abundant. 1872 is rather scarce. 1873 introduces arrows for the first time at each side of the date. The variety without does not seem to exist in the S coinage. 1874 continues the arrowheads and the small s. 1875 omits the arrowheads. It has two varieties, a medium s within the wreath in one, the usual small s below in the other. In 1876 the latter only has been found. In 1877 also.

A long break in the sequence of the San Francisco coinage then occurs, but in 1884 the same design and the small s under the wreath are maintained. It and the five preceding dates are all very abundant, but in 1885 the smallest issue of the whole series makes that piece very rare. The S is almost medium in size. This somewhat larger S than usual under the wreath continues in the ample coinage of 1886 and the very large ones of 1887 and 1888. 1889 has two varieties,a medium s and a small scarce s. In 1890 the S is larger. 1891 presents it small. In 1892 and '93 it is nearly of medium size, still under the somewhat varied wreath. The obverse from '92 gives the new design of a garlanded bust turned to the right, and the date is smaller than any preceding it except 1856. None of these dates are scarce after '85.

In reviewing the S series it will be seen that the years of no coinage were 1857 and from 1878 to '83. The rarities are, in order of importance, 1885, '70, '58, '59, and '56. 1866, '60, '67, and '63 are rather scarce. The dates and varieties mentioned number thirty-three, to and including 1893.

The CC Mint Dime Coinage

Is recognized by two very small c's, smaller than the small s of the last series, and they do not vary perceptibly throughout the eight dates of this mint issued.

The first Dime of Carson City is that of 1871, with the seated Liberty surrounded by "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," on the obverse, as in the P and S coinage of the same year, and the wreath of wheat, corn, oak, &c., on the reverse. This piece and the three succeeding dates are all very rare. The CC are close together and under the wreath in these. 1872 is the second date. 1873 we know of without the arrowheads only. 1874 is the highest rarity of the four.

We have 1875 in three varieties: The first has a close CC below the wreath, the second has a close CC within the wreath, and the third has a wide CC within the wreath, the latter two very scarce. 1876 has the usual close CC under the wreath. 1877 repeats this, and has a variety, with the CC a trifle larger. 1878 continues the close CC. It is somewhat scarce, but the three dates before it very common.

The Dime has not been coined at the Carson City Mint since 1878, and probably will not be in future.

Comparative Table.

The issues of the three Branch Mints named are associated with the Philadelphia dates of dimes in the following interesting list:

1838, P. O; 1839, P. O; 1840, P. O; 1841, P. O; 1842, P. O; 1843, P. O; 1844, P; 1845, P. O; 1846, P; 1847, P; 1848, P; 1849, P. O ; 1850, P. O; 1851, P. O; 1852, P. O; 1853, P. O; 1854. P. O; 1855, P; 1856, P. O. S; 1857, P. O; 1858, P. O. S; 1859, P. O. S; 1860, P. O. S; 1861, P. S; 1862, P. S; 1863, P. S; 1864, P. S; 1865, P. S; 1866, P. S; 1867, P. S; 1868, P. S; 1869, P. S; 1870, P. S: 1871, P. S. CC; 1872, P. S. CC; 1873, P. S. CC; 1874, P. S. CC; 1875, P. S. CC; 1876, P. S. CC; 1877, P. S. CC; 1878, P. CC; 1879, P; 1880, P; 1881, P; 1882, P; 1883, P; 1884, P. S; 1885, P. S; 1886, P. S; 1887, P. S; 1888, P. S; 1889, P. S; 1890, P. S; 1891, P. S. O; 1892, P. S. O; 1893, P. S. O.

No date has more than three pieces, and it will be seen that the collector triplicates his dates in but fourteen years of the fifty-five from 1838 to '93. He doubles them only in thirty-one years, and in ten the Philadelphia pieces stand alone. Thus Mint Marks are not, after all, such a great extravagance.

The Twenty Cent Piece,

Like the silver Three Cent and the gold Three Dollar coins, has but very little for the interest of the Mint-Mark collector except in one rarity.

The Philadelphia Mint issues of 1875, '76, '77, and '78 complete that series. The coinage of every date was small, especially the latter two, which were in 'proof' only. The only S Mint piece, 1875, has a small s directly over the Y. There were coined considerably over one million of these pieces, or nearly six times the amount of all other coinage of them. The Carson City Mint coined a moderate quantity in 1875 with the CC wide apart, one over the Y the other over the "c" of 'CENTS;' also a small quantity in 1876. The pieces of 1876 CC have become very rare, as we have mentioned in our preface, from the negligence of Western collectors, or the indifference of all to Mint Mark rarities while the proofs of '78 (coined in Philadelphia to but about a twentieth of the amount), can at any time be bought. Thus the twenty cent piece has but three Mint Mark dates one being a prize. We have not remarked any varieties.

The Quarter Dollar

Has been coined at New Orleans, San Francisco, and Carson City.

The O Mint Quarter Dollar Coinage

Began in 1840, and, excepting the years 1845, '46, and '48, continued to 1860. After a long interval, begun by the civil war, it was resumed in 1891, and continued with the new bust of Liberty design in 1892 and '93. The coinage of the existing O mint quarter of 1849 is not recorded in the Mint Report. The scarcer dates are 1851, '52, '91, and '55. The Mint-Mark letter may be classified in this series as of three sizes, a large, a medium, and a small. The large is nearly as large as the letters of the legend, the medium about two-thirds, the small about one-half the height of these letters. The complete set of dates and a few varieties we have found are here described: 1840 has a small date and well-known varieties with and without a sleeve, the latter being apparently peculiar to this mint. The sleeve variety has a medium o over the "R" of QUAR., and by the point of the left stem, the other a large O over the space to the right of the "R," and evenly placed between the stems. 1841 has also a small date and two varieties of the medium sized o, one being over the "R" and the other over the space to the right, as before. 1842 has a large date and the medium o over the space. In the O mint it is as easy to get as the preceding, but is very rare in the Philadelphia coinage, and most collectors will find themselves depending on a Mint Mark for this date. 1843 has a small o over the space and a large date. 1844 has a medium o over the space.

There was no coinage, it will be remembered, in 1845 and '46. In 1847 the date is very large, and the medium o is over the space. 1848 continues the size of the date and O of the last piece, but the O is high between the stems. In 1849, a piece only scarce, there was no coinage recorded in the O Mint Report, but neither this piece or others in the '40's have the scarcity of similar Philadelphia dates. 1850 has a medium o close to the right stem and an upright 5 in date, unusual in the '50's. 1851 has a large O close to the left stem, and is the scarcest piece of the series, though not strictly rare. 1852 is quite scarce. It presents a large O close between the stems and over the space. 1853 appears with arrowheads and the rays, used only in this year's issue. It is quite common. If the rare variety without arrows and rays exists in O coinage we have not yet beard of it.

There are two varieties as regards the location of the large O mint mark, one is well centered over the space, the other is close to the notch of the stems 1854 has arrowheads only and the large O in two varieties, one well centered over the space, the other broadly restruck, and touching the R on the upper right curve. 1855 has a large O over the R, and is rather scarce. 1856 has an upright 5 in the large date and a large O over the space. The arrowheads cease. 1857 presents a large date and a large O high above the R and between the stems. 1858 has the O lower, but is otherwise similar, except in an upright 5 in the large date. 1859 has a small date and a well-centered large O. 1860 shows the same details. An interval then extends to 1891. This piece unchanged in design, has a medium date and a small o between the stems high over the right side of the R. It will be rather scarce. 1892 offers the new dies of a garlanded bust facing right and an heraldic eagle on the reverse. The date is of medium size and the Mint Mark is an exceedingly small o, just under the middle of the tail and over the R. 1893 continues the new design. This series numbers twenty-one dates to 1863, and a few varieties which can doubtless be increased.

The S Mint Quarter Dollar Coinage

Began in San Francisco in 1855, fifteen years after the first O date, and, with the exception of the years 1863, '70, '79 to '87, inclusive, '89 and '90, quarters have been struck annually to the present year.

A very interesting feature of this series is the large size of the Mint Mark on the earlier dates. The "S" exceeds in proportions those of the word "STATES." There are at least three other sizes on later dates, which may be called medium, small, and very small, ranging from within the height of letters of the legend to hardly more than a dot. They are invariably under the eagle on the reverse. There are twenty-six dates of this series to 1893 and a few varieties. We describe in detail the set we have thus far gathered.

The 1855 has slanting fives, arrow heads, and a large S high over the space to the right of the R. The 1856 has an upright 5, no arrows, a large high date and a large S high over the R. It has also a variety with the S high over the space. 1857 has a large date and a large S highly placed almost over the space. It is not common. 1858 continues the upright 5 and large date. A large S is high over the space. 1859 commences the small dates and has a large S nearly over the space. It is not common. 1860 presents a small date and a large S high over the space. It is a scarce piece. 1861 continues the small date. The large S is well centered over the space. 1862 only varies in the large S being high over the space. It is somewhat scarce. There was no coinage in 1863. 1864 has a medium date and a large S high over the space. It is the date of smallest coinage in the S series and is very rare. 1865 continues the medium date that rules hereafter. It has a large S high over the space and is scarce. 1866 is the first of the series with the motto "In God We Trust." It is also the first to dismiss the large mint mark and show a very small s that continues with little change through the rest of the San Francisco Quarters. The S in this date is close to the point of the left stem and over the R to the left. The piece is very rare, ranking next to '64. In 1866, for the first time, the Philadelphia quarter has a smaller coinage and so continues for the next three years, but could be more readily found especially in fine condition. 1867 repeats the details of the preceding date. We have found it also very rare. 1868 and 1869 have the same appearance but are not scarce. There was no coinage in 1870. In 1871 the small s crowds upon the point of the left stem. The piece is very rare. 1872 has the S midway between the left stem and the R. 1873 we have found only with the arrow heads which had been omitted since 1855. The s is smaller than before - the very small size - and is well centered between the stems, nearly over the space. 1874 again omits the arrow heads and has the same details regarding the Mint Mark as the preceding date. Of 1875 the same may be observed. 1876 shows two varieties, one with the very small s nearly over the space and the other with a medium small s over the R. 1877 also has two varieties - a small s close above the R and a medium small s highly placed nearly over the space. 1878 has a medium small s well centered nearly over the space. All these dates after '71 should be readily found - 1874 to '77 being especially abundant.

An interval of coinage then occurs until 1888 when there was another great issue which should be distinguished from the very rare Philadelphia piece of this date.

The 1888 S has a medium small Mint Mark well centered nearly over the space. 1891 was the next year of coinage and will be rather scarce. There are two varieties. In one the medium small s is rather high and almost over the space, in the other it is centered over the R. In 1892 the new designs of a garlanded bust, facing right on the obverse and an heraldic eagle on the reverse side appeared on the San Francisco coinage simultaneously with that at New Orleans and Philadelphia. The S Mint Mark is exceedingly small. It touches the middle of the eagle's tail and is just over the R. The 1893 S Quarter, just received, has a small s under the right side of the tail and over the space between R and D.

This list gives a total in dates and varieties of thirty pieces for the S mint series from 1855 to '93. We review the rarest dates as those of 1864, '66, '71 and '67, and the scarce ones of the years 1860 and 1865.

The CC Mint Coinage of Quarter Dollars

Extended from 1870 to 1878 with the exception of the year 1874, so that there are eight dates in this interesting series, the first four being of very small coinage. 1870 has a medium date and a widely spaced small cc over the letters A and R of QUAR. It has the smallest coinage of the series, and is exceedingly rare. 1871 has the same details and is also exceedingly rare. Of 1872 the same may be said, and in rarity it ranks next to 1870. 1873 has the same details and two varieties, one with arrow beads to the date and the other without. Both are exceedingly rare. 1875 has a large date and a close cc over the R and the space to the right. It is not common. 1876 has a large date, and two varieties - the close small cc high over the R and a slightly larger cc, not so high. 1877 has a small date and a close small cc over the R. 1878 has a small date and a close relatively large CC over the R and partly over the space. The latter three dates were coined in immense quantities.

The largest size of the very little varying Mint Mark of this series is very small in comparison with that of other mints, for it was used after the obtrusive Mint Marks of the early dates, especially the San Francisco pieces, had yielded to an evidently general policy of making them merely sufficient for identification if necessary.

The three Branch Mintages of Quarters conflict very little. The O Mint issues are alone from 1840 to '54. From '55 to '60 there are O and S Mints. The S series then runs alone to '69. From '70 to '78 with one exception in each mintage, it has the CC dates in its company. Then, except a single S Mint coinage in '88, there is a break to 1891, when the O and S Mints resume, and have since continued.

The Half Dollar

Has been coined at the Mints of New Orleans, San Francisco and Carson City. These Mintages are related to each other very much as are the Quarters to which we have just referred. The O dates run alone from 1838 to 1854. From 1855 to '61 the O and S pieces are contemporary. The S series then continues alone until 1870, when the Carson City coinage starts in and accompanies it to 1878. Then all Branch Mint coinage of Half Dollars ceases until 1892, when at San Francisco and New Orleans they are struck with the new dies.

It will be remarked that, up to the latter year, there are only seventeen doubled pieces to be added to the Philadelphia dates in a period of fifty-five years. The collector, therefore, who, without investigation, has fancied that he would need to buy perhaps three Mint Mark pieces for each year of the half century, may be much reassured.

The O Mint Coinage of Half Dollars

Commences in 1838. There is no record of that year in the Mint Report, and probably only a few specimen pieces were struck, as less than a dozen are now known, and they are not merely among the rarest Mint Marks, but the rarest pieces of United States coinage. The value this high Mint Mark rarity has acquired augurs well for others when the whole subject is more familiar to collectors. The 1838 Half Dollar has a medium sized o on the obverse of the piece and beneath the bust of that year. 1839 retains the O under the bust facing left on the obverse. The piece has a large date and is not common. In 1840 the dies of the Half Dollar were changed, and the seated Liberty and spread eagle continued long afterwards. The date is small, and an O of the large size is under the eagle, on the reverse (as always since), and just over the 'F' of the word HALF.

There is a variety of this date with a very small o mid-high over the F. There is no other small o until '92, and what we have termed the large size is not much more than half the height of the letters on the reverse. 1841 has a small date and a well-centered large O over the F. 1842 shows a large date and a large O mid-high over the F in one variety, and over the space between L and F in another. 1843 has the large date, which so continues as not to need further reference, and a large O somewhat to the right, over the F. 1844 has two varieties, a large O, rather high over the F, and a medium sized o placed lower. There is also a curious restrike of this O mint date. 1845 has an upright 5 and a medium o mid-high over the F. 1846 resumes the large O, which is high over the F. 1847 is similar. 1848 only varies in that the O about touches the stem above. 1849 has also a large, very high O directly over the F. We find 1850 the same, and 1851. None of these dates from '39 down can be called scarce. 1852, however, claims that distinction. It resembles the two or three preceding pieces. 1853 appears, as at Philadelphia, with arrowheads for the first time, and rays on the reverse for the only time The O is large. This piece is common, but, if the judgment of several authorities is well founded, there is a variety of the 1853 O mint without arrows and rays similar to the Quarter of the Philadelphia Mint, but never known in the Half Dollar coinage of that institution, which takes at a bound the highest place among Mint Mark rarities. Such a piece has been purchased as genuine for considerably over one hundred dollars. It was found in the West. We are disposed to recognize the possibility of such a variety, but, as we have seen the usual pieces with the rays and arrows so skillfully removed as to 'deceive the very elect,' we warn collectors to be very much on their guard. 1854 continues the arrowheads, and has a large O mid-high over the F in one variety, while in another it is nearly over the space and close to the stem. 1855, with arrowheads also, shows the usual Mint Mark high over the F.

In 1856 the arrowheads disappear for good. The large O is so high over the F as nearly to touch the stem. Besides the 'perfect date' of this piece we have two restrikes, one below the figures and one above. Whether from a defective machine or unskilled workman the frequent 1856 restruck dates are usually of the O mint. The 1857 piece has the O close to the stein also, and rather to the right of the F. 1858 and 1859 present the same details. In 1860 the O is merged with the stem above the F. 1861 shows the mint mark nearly touching the stem, above the F also.

After a long interval the Half Dollar was struck in 1892 with the new bust and heraldic eagle dies. The date is small, and a small o is directly under the middle of the eagle's tail and over the D. There is one rare variety of this piece with an exceedingly small o, hardly larger than a period.

The 1893 as far as we have seen, resembles the usual preceding date. It is scarce. There are twenty-five years in this series to '93. As the coinage of most of the O Mint dates was very large, they are easily obtained in some condition, except the 1852 scarce piece and the two superlative rarities we have referred to, which give this series its greatest interest to the numismatist. The Half Dollar of 1861 and the Double Eagle of the same date, were the only denoininations coined that year at New Orleans on the eve of the war, all the other issues having ceased with the preceding date. It has been said that the major part of the large quantity of these Half Dollars existing were coined with the remaining U. S. dies by the Confederacy in their pressing need of silver. We have heard this denied at the New Orleans Mint. At all events the coins cannot decide the matter or the different issues would have a greater interest.

The S Mint Half Dollar Coinage

Is one of the most attractive series of all the Branch Mint issues. The Mint Mark has a greater number of sizes than in any other. There are a greater number of varieties than any except the Half Dime, and the Half Dollar has, from its size, an advantage over the latter in being seen in every detail without the use of a magnifying glass.

The conspicuous character of the largest S of the early San Francisco dates is thus even more notable on the Halves than the Quarters of this Mintage. It is quite as large or a little larger than the S's of the word 'STATES.' There is next a modified large S with a shorter upper curve. Then a medium s, a small s, and a very small s which occupies no more space than one of the periods on the piece. With a glass further distinctions might be made, but these will suffice for practical use. 1855 is the first year of the S Mint series. The date is large with far sloping 5's and with arrow heads. The Mint Mark is a large S placed close to the stem over the F of 'HALF.' This piece, though the reported coinage hardly warrants it, has become very rare, either from small issue perhaps or export. 1856 is without arrows, as are all afterwards down to '73, the date is large, with an upright 5 The large S is located as in '55. The 1857 has two varieties, a large 8 placed as in the preceding dates and a medium s high over the space between the F and D. Both varieties are very scarce and the latter may be called rare. The date continues large. 1858 presents the last large date and has two varieties, a large S high over the F and a medium s mid-high rather over the right of F. In 1859 the long continued medium date begins. The piece has two varieties, a large S high over the F, rather to the right and a medium s high, directly over the F. 1860 shows a large S high over the F, and a nearly as large S, but with a shorter upper curve, similarly placed on a second variety. 1861 offers two varieties also, a large S located as before and a medium s not so high over the F. In 1862 these varieties are repeated, but the medium s is rather smaller than the preceding one. 1863 has the first small s which is placed high over the space to the left of the F. 1864 gives two varieties again, a large S nearly over the space to the right of the F and a small s over the space to the left. The large S ceases with this date for 1865 shows only a small s mid-high over the staff of the F. 1866 has two varieties of a new character, one with the preceding plain field over the eagle, which has no counterpart in any other mintage of this date, and with a small s over the F, rather to the right; the second introducing on the field for all pieces thenceforward a scroll bearing the inscription 'In God We Trust.' This second has the small s over the space to the left of the F. 1867 has a small s high over the F. 1868 locates the same s high over the space to the left of the F. In 1869 the small s is just over the F and high. 1870 presents it over the F, but at lesser height. 1871 has two varieties, a small s moderately high, and a rather smaller s close to the stem, both over the F.

In 1872 two varieties are again found, one having a small s high over the F, the other placing it low over the space to the right. The 1873 date is accompanied by arrowheads, and has a small s close to the stem, over the space to the left of the F. 1874 continues the arrowheads, and has three varieties of slightly different small s's; one is very low over the space between F and D, the second is high over the F, and the third is high over the 'L' of 'HALF.' 1875 discontinues the arrowheads, and has also three varieties, a small s high over the F, another centered over the space to the right, and a very small s very close to the stem over the F. 1876 gives two varieties, one is a small s well centered over the F, the other a very small s placed as in the last date. In 1877 we have a small s high over the F, and, in a variety, the smallest sized s, well centered, over the F also.

All the pieces of this series, thus far, except 1855 and '57, should be readily found, but in the next date, 1878, we have the great rarity of the San Francisco Half Dollar coinage. It presents a very small s high over the F. After its very small coinage there was a break in the issue of this denomination until 1892, when the new dies of a bust of Liberty and an heraldic eagle were used, as at Philadelphia and New Orleans. A very small s is placed in this piece at the lowest point of the eagle's tail and just over the D. There is a variety with the S slightly larger and well centered. No coinage is probable in 1893.

There are, including dates to 1892, twenty-five pieces in the S mint series, and at least fifteen varieties. As the Halves at San Francisco were coined in much greater quantity than the Quarters, and are less worn usually by circulation, the collector can hope to collect a set of the former in much higher average condition.

The CC Coinage of Half Dollars

Is, unlike its series of Dimes and Quarters, an unbroken sequence of nine dates from 1870 to 1878. Unlike them, also, however, no year's coinage was so very small as to be extremely rare. Yet three dates may be called very scarce and one variety rare. 1870 is the first of these dates. It has a pair of small upright cc's, close together, and high over the F, rather to the left. 1871 and 1872 repeat these details. The former date, while not scarce, is certainly not common. 1873 presents two varieties. The first has a plain date, and the Mint Mark consists of two very small round cc's, close together, in the same location as before. This variety we consider rare. The second presents, for the first time, arrowheads at each side of the date, and has the upright, small, close cc's of preceding years. 1874 continues the arrowheads, and has the very small, close, rounded cc's high over the F, rather to the left. It is the second scarce date. 1875 discontinues the arrowheads, and offers two varieties. The first has the small upright cc's but widely separated, in the usual location. The second shows the very small, rounded, close Mint Mark placed as before.

In 1876 we have again two varieties, small, close, upright cc's, rather to the left, over the F, and very small, rounded, close cc's directly over this letter. 1877 extends its varieties to three. The first is a very small, rounded, close pair of cc's high over the F and space to the right; the second a wider separated pair of upright small cc's high over the F, and to the left; the third gives the latter Mint Mark placed lower over the F. 1878 is the third scarce date of the series. Its Mint Mark, placed over the space to the left of the F, is the small upright pair of cc's in two varieties, one having the cc's even, the other having the first c higher than the second. Varieties thus extend the Carson City Half Dollar set to fifteen pieces.

The Silver Dollar,

Which has been such a cause of financial agitation of late years, and of which so many millions have been coined annually since 1878 not only at Philadelphia, but at each one of the Branch Mints of New Orleans, San Francisco and Carson City, seems, at first thought, too bulky, common and cumbrous a coin for the Mint Mark collector. To include dollars he must add, after a few early dates, three pieces each year from 1878 to the present to his Philadelphia series. But if he is an enthusiast in Mint Marks, he cannot omit the final silver series, especially if so easily acquired, for, as dollars have less wear than other denominations, he, if not willing to buy very fine or uncirculated specimens from the dealers, can find many dates of choice condition at the nearest bank. They will at any time realize more than third or fourth-rate coins of low intrinsic worth for which they might be spent. Interest only will be lost and, as mint mark coinage decreases and its collectors increase, even the dollars of desirable condition wilt surely yet command a good premium. And futhermore, despite the immense quantities of the majority of dates coined, there are certain rare pieces in the early issues of every Branch Mint which a numismatist may be very proud to possess.

The O Mint Silver Dollar Coinage

Commenced with the year 1846, when the seated figure of Liberty appeared on the obverse, as in the Philadelphia issue. The Mint Mark is of the size of the usual O on the quarter and may be called large. It is well centered over the space between 'one' and 'dollar.' The piece is quite scarce. 1850 is the next year of coinage. The large O is high over the space. This dollar is very scarce - the most so of the series.

After another lapse of time the third O Mint Dollar was coined in 1859. A large O is moderately high over the space. The fourth coinage comes promptly in 1860 when the O is very high. This date and the preceding are scarce.

Then a long break occurs, commenced by the war and continued because no Trade Dollars were struck at New Orleans from 1873 to 1878 as at San Francisco and Carson City. When in 1879 O Mint Dollars were again coined - a year later than the Standard Dollar resumption at the San Francisco and Carson City mints - the large ornate head had replaced the seated figure of Liberty and, on the reverse, a different design is also seen. The Mint Mark changes to a small o which is close to the center of the wreath and over the space between the D and O of 'DOLLAR.' In the dates from 1879 to '93, the only variations from this description, which we have noted, are that the same small o sometimes touches the wreath, as in examples of 1886, 1888 and 1889, and sometimes is free. The date is also a little more or less removed from the star to the right. Such trifling differences would, we think, tempt no one to gather varieties of so inconvenient a piece, and we leave them undetailed.

The S Mint Silver Dollar Coinage

Is irregular in the earlier dates, like the New Orleans series, and they are also much more limited in amount.

In 1859 the first San Francisco Dollars were coined with the 'Liberty seated' die. The s is nearly two-thirds of the size of the letters of 'STATES' and is high over the space between 'ONE' and 'DOLLAR'. The piece is rare. Not until 1872 was the next coinage of Dollars and it was so small as to make them very rare. The mint mark on our piece is a very small s that touches the stem directly over the E Of 'ONE'. In the following year, 1873, but a few hundred pieces were struck which, in comparison with the few thousands of preceding dates and the many millions of those following, causes it to be excessively rare. As we have not yet seen or heard of a specimen we cannot give its description, but if any one is lucky enough to find an 1873 S this will be unnecessary. The small coinage of this standard Dollar was probably due to the making of 700,000 of the Trade Dollars which was accomplished at San Francisco the same year.

The S Mint Trade Dollars.

1873, on the obverse of which is Liberty seated upon a bale with other details, has as Mint Mark a very small s over the D slightly to the left. 1874 has a small s in a similar position. 1875 offers two varieties, a very small and a medium sized s placed as before, but rather more to the left of D. 1876 has a medium s in the same location. In 1877 there is no change of Mint Mark, but, in addition to the regular piece, there is a curious variety resulting from the slipping of the 'collar' in the process of coinage. This gives an edge milled through half its thickness only, the rest being plain. The variety is known as the 1877 S mint half-milled dollar, and is rare. 1878 has the same rare variety. The regular piece has the S more nearly over the D. After 1873 the Trade Dollars were coined by millions annually, and no date should ordinarily be rare, but owing to export and the recall of about the entire amount of Trade Dollars once in circulation, few really exist out of dealers' and collectors' hands.

The S Mint Standard Dollars - Continued.

In 1878, the last year of the coinage of Trade Dollars at San Francisco, the mint of that city resumed the issue of the more legitimate Dollar with an over-large and an over-ornate female head on the obverse. The Mint Mark on the reverse is a very small s over the space between the D and O of 'DOLLAR.' In 1879 the s is small and similarly placed. 1880 has a small crooked s. 1881 has a very small s once more and 1882 continues it. From 1883 on, a small s is seen in the same place until 1892, when a very small s returns. But the differences are, as in the O series, too slight for consideration in regard to this heavy piece of such immense annual coinage. 1893 has a small S.

The only dates in which somewhat less than a million were struck are 1886, 1888 and 1889, but condition alone can give value to any dollar of the S mint from 1878 to '93. It may be noted that the new designs of the Dimes, Quarters and Halves of 1892 were not extended to the Dollars, which in 1893 still appear as in the eighties at all mints.

The CC Mint Silver Dollar Coinage,

Like that of the O and S institutions, presents its rarities early to the collector but they are in more regular order.

1870 was the first date of the Carson City Dollar. The piece has on its obverse the seated Liberty so long used. We have two varieties of this Mint Mark. In one the medium-sized, widely separated cc's are located high over the E and the space to the right; in the other the CC's are close together in the same position. Both varieties are very rare as but a few thousands were struck and they are very little known.

In 1871, 1872 and 1873 about two thousand Dollars only were coined annually at Carson City, and they are now extremely rare. The rarest 1871 has a large CC, rather wide, the first C over the E, the second touching the stem. 1872 we have not seen. The 1873 has the cc's of medium size and quite separated, one being over the E and the other over the space. We attribute the small coinage of Standard Dollars in Carson City, as at San Francisco, to the output of a very large amount of Trade Dollars in 1873, with a similar diversion of labor to them for several years to come.

The CC Mint Trade Dollars

Were issued contemporaneously with those of the S Mint during the years from 1873 to '78 inclusive. Though coined in smaller quantities the amount in circulation before the recall of the piece was not limited enough in any date to cause even scarcity. But if those remaining in the possession of collectors and dealers are proportioned relatively to the original coinage, the date of 1878 should be the most difficult to find.

The Trade Dollar 1873 cc has a medium sized, widely separated Mint Mark over the space before the D and the D itself. 1874 shows a small close pair of cc's in the same position. In 1875 the cc's are medium in size and close together over the space. 1876 has the medium and close cc's over the space and the D. 1877 repeats these details. 1878 offers the largest CC of all. The letters are close together and are over the D and the space to the right.

The CC Mint Standard Dollars - Continued.

The new design of a large ornate bead adopted for all the Mints, was used at Carson City in 1878 for a very large coinage of dollars with an individual value approximating those struck before 1873. The piece of 1878 has a small cc over the space between the D and O of 'DOLLAR.' In 1879 the same Mint Mark is more over the D. 1880 has a very small cc over the D and the space to the right. It is not very common. 1881 is becoming rather scarce. 1885 is quite scarce and 1889 moderately so. 1893 has a medium cc over the space between D and O. The first C is higher than the second. However, in the Carson Dollars from 1878 to '93 the differences are so trivial that, for reasons before given, we will leave further study of the millions of pieces annually issued to individual pleasure, assured that very few will burden their drawers with more than a specimen of each Mint Mark date.

Condition, we repeat, is an especially important factor of value in Dollars of the Branch Mints, and uncirculated pieces of the many abundant dates will command good premiums. Any prominent dealer could soon fill an order for one hundred strictly uncirculated Philadelphia coins of any silver denomination and date (except very few) between 1840 and 1890 but would find an equal number of any Branch Mint piece very difficult to gather in the same condition.

We have in these lists inserted the Trade Dollars in their regular order in the Branch Mint Coinage to better show their relation to the Standard Dollars and their occupation of the break in the series of that piece. But as many collectors keep their Trade Dollar set apart, we will show, in a mention of our array of these pieces, bow an interest in Mint Marks may help to greatly enrich it.

To the eleven Philadelphia Proofs from 1873 to '83 may be added the five uncirculated dates from 1873 to '77 of the same Mint, the six regular Trade Patterns, the six S Mints from 1873 to '78, the six CC Mints of similar dates and the two Half Milled S Mints of 1877 and '78, making a collection of thirty-six pieces in all.

As another instance of how a study of Mint Marks will enable the numismatist to enrich his collection, we draw attention to the fact that there are no less than six different Silver Dollars of 1873 and 1878, as follows: The standard pieces of the Philadelphia, the Carson City, and the San Francisco Mints, together with the 'Trades' of the Carson City and San Francisco Mints, make five pieces for each date, and for the sixth the '73 P Mint can be had, both uncirculated and in proof, and the '78 P in proof only, with seven and with eight tail feathers to the eagle.

There is also a rare 1878 dollar, which has three single leaves on the stem in the eagle's claw instead of the usual three groups of three leaves each, and which, being otherwise, obverse and reverse, exactly like the standard P mint 1878, does not deserve to be called a 'pattern.' But we are wandering somewhat, in our remarks upon general varieties, from the subject of Mint Marks to which this Treatise is devoted. A study of them in every silver series has, however, now been completed.

The years of issue at the Branch Mints of each denomination from the Three Cent piece to the Dollar have been carefully given, and all varieties thus far discovered particularly mentioned, both to show what are known to exist and to stimulate a search for others which may yet be found, a search not only for varieties, but for Mint Mark rare dates hitherto overlooked which any one may retrieve from circulation and dispose of at a high price.

Branch Mint Rarities.

The leading coins thus referred to are here compactly given:

Silver Dollars, CC, 1870, '71, 72, '73; S, 1859, '72, '73; O, 1846, '50.

Half Dollars, O, 1838, '53, no arrows or rays; S, 1855, '57, '78; CC, '73, no arrows.

Quarters, CC, 1870, '71, '72, '73; S, '64, '66, '71.

Twenty Cent piece, CC, '76.

Dimes, CC, 1871, '72, '73, '74; O, '60; S, '58, '59, '70, '85.

Half Dimes, O, 1838, '42, '44, '48, '49, '52; S, '71.

These pieces range from rare to extremely rare. Many merely scarce ones are not added that those of the first importance may be more clearly kept in mind.


We have never heard of the following varieties in standard coin, but they may exist: Half Dollar, 1873, S, without arrows; Quarters,'53, O, no arrows and rays; '66, S, no motto; '73, S, no arrows; Dimes, '53, O, no arrows; '40, O, with sleeve; '73, S, without arrows.

Exclusive Mint Marks.

It has already been mentioned that several dies were used at the Branch Mints which were either never employed at Philadelphia or not during the same year. The resultant coins have a peculiar interest, and are here assembled, being not patterns, but standard pieces:

The Half Dime of 1838, O, without stars.

The Dime of 1838, O, without stars.

The Dime of 1860, S, with stars.

The Quarter of 1840, O, without sleeve.

The Half Dollar of 1858, O, without arrows and rays.

The Half Dollar of 1866, S, without the motto 'In God We Trust.'

The Half Dime and Dime without stars were issued in 1837 at Philadelphia, but not in '38. The last Philadelphia Dime with stars was struck in 1859. The other pieces have been referred to in past pages.

Unappreciated Philadelphia Rarities.

As a matter of interesting comparison we will follow the list of pieces which are rare as 'Mint Marks,' but not so as Philadelphia coinage, with a list of those considered rare in any case by dealers and collectors, and which are really much rarer in the Philadelphia than the Branch Mint issues.

Half Dimes, 1863, '64, '65, '66, and '67, but especially the '64, are high rarities if without an 'S' upon them. In the San Francisco Mint the coinage averaged nearly $6,000 worth annually. In Philadelphia about $500, and of the 1864 date but $23.50. Dimes, 1866 and '67, of Philadelphia have not a fifteenth of the issue of the S mint. Quarters, 1841 and '42, are still rarer without the O, '42 especially, and 1866, '67, '68, and '69 without the S. 1888 is very common with the S and very rare without it.

These points illustrate the advantage of a knowledge of Mint Marks even to those who do not collect them.

Half Dollars, though several immense S Mint issues surpass greatly several large issues of similar date at Philadelphia, offer but one notable greater rarity in the latter coinage, that of 1852.

In Dollars the date 1850 of Philadelphia is much rarer than the O Mint piece, the coinage being but a fifth of the latter.

Trade Dollars of the Philadelphia Mint are in a decided minority compared with others in the years 1874 and '75 only, but, as we have before said,the almost entire remelting of the 'Trades' nullifies all influence of issue.

Philadelphia scarce dates have not been here referred to except in comparison with competitive Branch Mint pieces. The rare ones coined in Philadelphia only, are beyond our province of reference.

Mint Mark Sets.

We have thus far spoken of Mint Marks rather as associaited with Philadelphia contemporary dates, than as independent series. But there is no need of inserting them among the pieces of the older Mint. Kept by themselves the irregularities of issue are better fixed on the mind, and the differences in the distinguishing letters and in other peculiarities are more apparent.

Mint Marks can be classified either according to the various Mints or by denominations, and a collector cannot realize fully, until he sees the many dates and varieties of any mintage so arranged, how interesting and valuable they are. A beginner may indeed commence with Mint Marks only. He will thus postpone the outlay involved in gathering the older and rarer Philadelphia coinage, he will find a much larger proportion of needed pieces in circulation, he will discover occasional varieties, now rarely possible in old coin, and he will accumulate series of modern pieces in desirable condition which will have high value in the future.