• When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network.


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Original Surfaces Are Great, But Post-Mint Damage Can Be Cool, Too

7 posts in this topic

Who is E. E. McD. and how and where did he/she die on March 11, 1847?


Most folks who read any quantity of my posts or who go to my website have no doubt been beaten over the head with the mantra of “original surfaces” this and “original surfaces” that, over and over. Similarly, many might be numb to reading “it’s likely been dipped…” or “the surfaces have clearly been altered” or even the favorite of some “the coin has been boinked”. However, sometimes the right coin comes along and just has to be incorporated into the collection even if it might not make sense on some levels. Such is the case with a piece being shared at this time.


It’s fair to say that I like Reeded Edge half dollars. It’s fair to say that I adore Reeded Edge half dollars. Heck, it might even be fair to say that Reeded Edge half dollars are my favorite US series. This quirky, short-lived series sits nestled between two enormous, highly popular and widely collected half dollar runs that constitute the Capped Bust and Seated Liberty series. The Reeded Edge half dollars are also coins that I carefully inspect when going to shows, visiting shops or examining collections. There are many scarce die marriages; two low mintage issues and a seemingly endless array of die cracks to find. Then, there is this coin.


Obviously, at one point the coin had a hole in it that has since been filled by a non-silver metal. It also has exquisite engraving that states “E. E. McD.” directly in front of the portrait and “1847 Died March 11th” directly behind the portrait. Aside from the engraving and repaired hole, the surfaces are not original. I’d imagine the coin was dipped once or twice, especially if it was worn on a necklace as suggested by the repaired hole, and has since retoned. Truly, if the engraving was on a coin from another series or if this were simply a Reeded Edge half dollar with surface issues then it is highly unlikely I would have purchase the coin. However, the coin is what it is and here we are with a modified 1838 Reeded Edge half dollar GR-14 (formerly JR-7) die marriage.



Link to 90 degree rotated obverse image.


I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking at this coin and also lots of time using Google to find out who might be referenced on the coin. Thus far, there are no interesting leads, but a number of cool items popped up. These include-


* A list of soldiers and civilians killed in the Siege of Veracruz from March 9 through March 29, 1847, which was the first large-scale amphibious assault by US forces.




* The history of the Donner Party along with a listing of individual survivors and casualties. Most have probably read about the Donner Party, but if you haven’t then you should take some time to read about what these folks endured on their trip westward and how so many of the members of the party died en route.




* On March 11, 1847 John Chapman died in Allen County, IN. Today he is better known as Johnny Appleseed. Of course, I do not know if he was always so happy as the 1972 postcard, below, suggests.




At the time of purchase, I was told that the coin was found in circulation in the early 1950s and was placed into its former collection at that time. The collection was from a collector who lived in ID. Thus far, I believe I am not any closer to finding out the details behind this coin than I was before the piece entered my collection. An interesting thing to wonder, which may or may not be accurate, is the level of wear on the coin. The coin is dated 1838 and has an engraving date of 1847. If we assume that the engraving was not done before March 11, 1847 then we might have some evidence as to how much circulation wear coins of this era gathered once minted. Certainly, this is not a perfect system, but it might be an interesting observation.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's actually a pretty cool memorium! I wonder if whoever engraved it had lost it? You would think that it would've stayed in a family or something if that person meant so much as to do such a nice engraving.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



Really cool piece!



regarding circulation wear: as you know, most of the silver coins in circulation at this time were well-worn Mexican coins, as most of the Bust halves spent a lot of time as bank reserves; so you may not be able to tell anything about amount of circulation wear from this coin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great story, Tom. Such fun to wonder, when you can't be certain. Whatever its history it is alluring.


Not sure you can draw any conclusions about wear of coins for that period. Some must have circulated freely. Others were saved. This example was probably held onto for a time.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for posting this, Tom. It's a really interesting and thought-provoking piece. Obviously, the person who performed the engraving was very skilled in this art.



Link to comment
Share on other sites