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Coin News for March 8, 2010

What’s Copper? What’s Bronze? What’s Brass? What’s the Difference?
The E-Sylum
Copper is a popular coinage metal because of its (somewhat) low cost and high coinability. It has been used for coins since 450 BC. And as every Lincoln cent collector knows, untarnished copper red quickly turns brown in circulation. I checked my entry on Bronze in my Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology and found 26 names of bronze alloys that have been used as the composition for coins and medals. It is all a matter of the amount of zinc (generally) alloyed with copper. While copper is the major component it is alloyed with zinc and/or tin with other metals as trace or impurities.
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Coins a Medium of Exchange Beyond My Lifetime
Dave Harper’s Buzz
I have written that coins will be a viable medium of exchange beyond my lifetime on a number of occasions over the last 10 years. My assertion usually is prompted by the reports of their imminent demise. But I am not blind to the current low production level of coinage at the U.S. Mint and the multiplication of uses of credit and debit cards in daily life. It is not that I don’t believe more transactions will be handled electronically. More certainly will be. I simply believe that there are places and occasions where coins have their uses.
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Alderney Issues One of the World’s Largest and Rarest Coins
Big News
The Royal Mint has produced one of the world’s largest coins for Alderney, weighing a full kilogram (2.2 pounds) of pure silver, commemorating the 500th anniversary of the accession of Henry VIII, who reigned from 1509 until his death in 1547. This is also one of the world’s rarest coins, since only 200 gem proof pieces were made. Each kilo coin comes in a luxurious presentation case, featuring an individually numbered plaque and booklet incorporating a Certificate of Authenticity.
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American Eagles Swing
Coin Values
Unlike the market for classic United States coins, where the market is becoming increasingly picky about quality, the market for modern coins still in their government packages is more about supply and demand than connoisseurship. The past several months have seen wild fluctuations in the prices of Proof American Eagle gold coins and to a lesser extent the Proof American Eagle silver counterparts. Heavy demand at the wholesale level is driving this market. At the apex of the Proof American Eagle market several months ago, dealers were paying $2,200 per ounce for Proof American Eagle gold coins in their original boxes with certificates of authenticity.
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Politics and Currency
High Country News
To be sure, Grant’s military career as commander of Union forces in the Civil War is much more distinguished than his political career, which was marked by corruption. But Grant was personally honest, and he tried to institute a more peaceful Indian policy while attempting to preserve the rights of newly freed slaves in the South. He came down hard on one domestic terrorist organization, the Ku Klux Klan. Besides that, the portraits on our currency do not reflect the rankings of presidents, since neither Alexander Hamilton ($10) or Benjamin Franklin ($100) was ever president. The $2 bill (Thomas Jefferson) is so rarely circulated that store clerks look askance when you use one.
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Try First Issues When You Need a Challenge
Need a change of pace? Collecting can be more than filling holes in an album, or crossing off items on your want list. A creative approach to numismatics can enable a collector to build a unique collection that has its own challenges. A set of United States coins of their first year of issue makes an impressive, and different, collection. Some coins are very easy to find, maybe in change, while others are more scarce and expensive. Some fans of type collecting acquire a first year of design type coin of some series to spice up their sets.
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About the Author

Tim Shuck is a life-long Midwestern resident, and started collecting coins after finding an Indian Head cent on the ground at his childhood farm home. Additional encouragement came from looking through a collection of well-worn late 19th and early 20th century coins kept by his grandfather in an old leather coin purse. Current collecting interests include U.S. types from the Civil War era through the early 1930's, and Colonial and Early American coins.

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