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The “Coin Without A Country”

Although widely considered a part of the Seated Half Dime series, the fascinating 1860 ‘Transitional’ issue was actually a creation of United States Mint Director James Ross Snowden just before the onset of the Civil War.  Allegedly, he issued 100 pieces as ‘trade bait’ in order to lure new coins to the U.S. Mint cabinet.  To this day, the exact survival rate is unknown.  However, most pieces never entered circulation meaning they were most likely traded among coin collectors and dealers and given special care even in the earliest days of numismatics within Philadelphia and New York.  Circulated pieces are virtually unknown.  This is an interesting theme that crosses the border into certain other U.S. series as well.

This issue is most well-known for its highly unusual lack of “United States Of America” within the design.  Only a small handful of U.S. issues possess this attribute.  In this case, Snowden combined the unusual Paquet obverse design and new ‘cereal wreath’ reverse design intended for use on 1860 issues and onward.  Considering the historical significance, statistical rarity, and relative availability of high quality survivors – this issue seems to be a fantastic value.  It is a beautifully engraved Civil War-era pattern that fits into a high-end collection of Seated Half Dimes, Patterns, or general oddities!