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Rare 1876-CC twenty-cent coin for sale

July 8, 2019 0 Comments

The American Numismatics Association (ANA) is the most prestigious coin society to belong to, and its annual ‘World’s Fair of Money’ is a great event for any collector to visit. If you are still making plans for an August vacation, consider a few days in Chicago, and drop into the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, between August 13 to 17, 2019. This annual event is a great place to meet fellow collectors at all levels, and to see more rare and unusual coins and banknotes in one place than you would think possible.

A highlight of the Fair is the Stack Bower’s Official Auction events. The Rarities Night is especially interesting, and the place where the big boys come to play. A feature of this year’s night is the presence of one of the rarest and most desirable American coins, the 1876-CC twenty-cent coin. There are only twenty known to still exist, and this one comes from the E. Horatio Morgan Collection, where it has been sitting for the last 30 years.

The first thing of interest in this coin is its minting. It comes from the Carson City Mint, which was build during the years of the silver boom to mint mostly silver coins, although gold coins were also minted. It operated between 1870 and 1885, and from 1889 to 1893. The building is today a museum. Morgan silver dollars were another prestigious coin with the precious ‘CC’ mint mark.

In the 1870s there was a shortage of small change in the West, and a Nevada Senator and silver miner called John P. Jones proposed a new silver coin – 20 cents – to increase the coins in circulation. The Carson City Mint began producing them in 1875, and in 1876, for general circulation. The new coin was a failure, as it was too close to a quarter in value, and only caused confusion. Some coins, for collectors only, were produced in 1877 and 1876.

There were several problems with the coin, which led to its rapid demise. It was almost the same size as a silver quarter, and the reverse was the same Christian Gobrecht ‘Seating Liberty’ design used on the quarter. Although the edge was smooth, not reeded, to avoid confusion, this proved to not be enough.

The obverse features a bald eagle, facing left, with spread wings and an olive branch in the left claw and arrows in the right. The inscriptions read, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, TWENTY CENTS. The mint mark, ‘C C’ is beneath the eagle’s feet. The design is by William Barber, Chief Engraver at the US Mint at the time. The design was created in 1875, and Barber also copied Gobrecht’s design (from 1836) for the reverse. Because of its small size, other typical inscriptions were left off, and the only inscription on the reverse is the year.

A million coins were minted in 1875, but far fewer in the remaining three years. About one-third of the coins were later melted down, after they were withdrawn form circulation. To be cynical, at least Jones and his silver-mining friends got to sell lots of silver – which had been their motive in the first place, for this coin.

Of the twenty or so 1876-CC twenty-cent coins still existing, most are in poor condition, and the one offered in Chicago is one of the two top coins, being graded MS-65.

Filed in: Informative, News

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