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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Coing Colleting - Mumismatic Thoughts

By Frank C. Ross

( Article orginally published May 1952 )

In God We Trust

The religious motto "In God We Trust" first appeared on the bronze 1864 two-cent piece (coined 1864-1873). The two-cent piece is one of the plainest, yet one of the most artistic coins we have, and when coinboarded makes a beautiful exnibit. It only takes ten coins, as to dates, all from one Mint (Philadelphia), none with a prohibitive price, to form a complete set. There are two types of the 1864 date, large motto and small motto, but the size-difference is so small it is almost indiscernible and it is not necessary to have them both in an average type set. It should be the favorite of the obsolete coins as it has the distinction of initiating religion to our coinage. The history of the now famous motto, In God We Trust, on our coinage is best told by a government publication, 1928, in which is stated: "The religious motto, In God We Trust, first appeared on the coins of the country in 1864, and owes its presence there largely to the increased religious sentiment in the dreaded crisis of the Civil War. Hon. S. P. Chase, then Secretary of the Treasury, received a number of appeals from devout persons throughout the country suggesting and urging that the Deity be recognized suitably on our coins in a manner similar to that commonly found on the coins of other nations. Accordingly, on November 30, 1861, Secretary Chase addressed a letter to the Director of the Mint at Philadelphia, and with the statement of his reason that `no nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or,safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins,' ordered, `You will cause a device to be prepared without unnecessary delay with a motto expressing in the fewest words possible this national recognition. Several forms of motto expressing the intention were suggested. Patterns for the half-dollar and half-eagle prepared in 1862 have `God Our Trust,' and a pattern for a bronze two-cent piece made in 1863 has the bust of Washington on the obverse and the legend `God And Our Country'; but the familiar form of the motto was finallv decided upon, and it first appeared on a new two-cent piece in 1864.

"Tippecanoe and Tyler Too"

William Henry Harrison only held the presidency a few months, too short a time to stamp his executive ability, but so familiar had his name become on account of the "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" political campaign that his picture appears on the old, (now obsolete), state bank notes of 113 banks, representing 16 states. Tyler only appears on three bank notes, one bank from each of three states. One of the Harrison bank notes was issued by the Tippecanoe Bank of Winnemac, Indiana. He must have been quite a favorite of Massachusetts as 34 banks of the state honored him on their notes.

A Royal Hobby

Coin collecting is a Royal hobby. The king of Egypt is a coin collector with a famed collection.

Remember the Forgottens

Big children make so much noise that the little ones sometimes are not seen, let alone heard. Outside of regular collections little fairy Silver Trey, the diminutive silver three-cent piece, is an unknown, yet it is about the daintiest and prettiest little elf imaginable, so small yet so facially perfect.

Another almost forgotten coin is the two-cent piece. It proved more ornamental than useful, and in its early youth was relegated circulatingly to limbo. The two-cent piece is an artistic beauty, its designs blending perfectly. The coins are of handy size, of few dates, make a beautiful card display, moderately priced, and it is a reflection on the collectors and not the coins that they are neglected.

Old Pariah, the trade dollar, is our most colorful coin, yet about the most forgotten one. Demonetized because of its failure to perform when sent to the Orient to freeze out the Mexican peso, it has been unable to live down its defeat. This colorful coin, with some dates of less than a thousand mintage, sixty years old, in proof condition selling for around only $5.00, not as much as some Bryan dollars, which are not coins, medals, or tokens, simply political canards.

Some claim their unpopularity is because they are obsolete, "out of sight, out of mind," but this does not hold water, for the half-cent is very popular, and the large three-cent piece and the twenty-cents are not negligible. Just a matter of taste, and the unpopulars will have to be Burbanked from spinach into something more savory.

Blue Money

Richard Barry in his Mr. Rutledge of South Carolina tells of the use of indigo cubes being used for money in that state. In 1780 Rutledge issued an order that indigo should become a medium of exchange, and should be accepted in payment for public and private debts in the amount of one shilling. It came in cubes about half an inch square, and was worth about $2 per pound. Bullets had been used as money, but as the indigo cubes were backed by the state they soon out-ranked the bullets. So popular had the indigo cubes become they were used as a medium of exchange in remote settlements for many years after the state had withdrawn its support of them.

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