A Question of Legitimacy
Leon Worden

A Question of Legitimacy
Legislation would revoke government claims to privately held 19th-century patterns, 1913 Liberty Head nickels and other rarities with shady pasts.

By Leon Worden
COINage magazine • Vol. 42, No. 7
July 2006


    The House Committee on Financial Services’ Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology held a hearing July 19, 2006, titled "Coin and Currency Issues Facing Congress: Can We Still Afford Money?" The hearing addressed HR 5077 by Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and general numismatic topics.
    Follow the links below (locally hosted) for prepared statements on HR 5077 by the following individuals:

David A. Lebryk, Acting Director, U.S. Mint


Brent D. Glass, Director, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution (.pdf)

Q. David Bowers, Numismatic Director, American Numismatic Rarities, LLC (.pdf)

Christopher Cipoletti, Executive Director, American Numismatic Association


Fred Weinberg, Vice Chairman, Industry Council for Tangible Assets (.pdf)

Beth Deisher, Editor, Coin World Magazine (.pdf)

he 1804 silver dollar. The 1913 Liberty Head nickel. The 1933 "double eagle" $20 gold coin and its 1907 Ultra High Relief predecessor. The 1943 bronze Lincoln cent. The 1885 Trade dollar.
    They are, in order, six of the 10 greatest coins in American history, as voted by the members of the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG). All have commanded stellar prices on the open market. And all, by virtue of either their clandestine manufacture or their mysterious release from the U.S. Mint, have run the risk at one time or another of confiscation by the Secret Service.
    Ask around. Is a 1913 Liberty Head nickel a "legal" coin? No, most professionals admit. It was made in the dark of night by persons unknown, after the Mint director gave explicit instructions to "do nothing" about 1913 nickels until the new Buffalo design was ready. Thus it could be seized at any time. Right?
    Wrong! "No documentation exists to show it was made at the United States Mint," and therefore the Treasury will take no action to seize it, Mint spokesman Michael White told COINage. He said it

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