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Mouth Open, Thoughts of Coins
May 19, 2009

I spent a significant part of yesterday afternoon in the dentist's chair. But even spending almost two hours there ended up with a numismatic component.

My dentist inherited a few coins from a grandmother and he knew I am editor of Numismatic News.

So, between having a mouthful of drill or goop used to make a mold for my pending crown, he was asking me questions.

He had a few silver dollars. At first he said a bag - and you know that conjures up the number 1,000 coins in the mind of a collector - but a little later he clarified and said he had around a dozen silver dollars.

They were circulated, so I didn't have to worry about how to keep them in Mint State. I told him to look under the eagle's tail feathers on the reverse for the mintmark. There is none for Philadelphia, but New Orleans has an "O," San Francisco an "S" and Carson City "CC." I suggested he concentrate on CC coins generally and, the 1889-CC specifically as well as the 1893-S.

(And you're right, I did not mention the Denver 1921.)

I told him that many of the coins he had were likely common and worth about $12 each. He found that a little hard to believe until I told them that the Mint turned them out by the hundreds of millions.

He also mentioned that he had some Indian cents. I told him the rare dates were 1877, 1908-S and 1909-S. I didn't get a chance to tell him where the mintmark is on these coins. By then my mouth was steadily filled with things going in an out.

By the end of my session, he decided that since I was coming back in two weeks, it would be easier for me to look at the coins rather so he wouldn't have to try to remember what I had said.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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