It is indeed fascinating, whether you are a coin collector, interested in history, or a starting numismatist. This book is impossible to put down, it is jam packed with interesting rumors and information about the coins of the United States.
The table of contents doesn’t do any justice to the book though. The chapter titles are very cryptic and don’t let get you excited about the book. Did you know how many mints have ever existed in the United States? Chances are you got this one wrong. However, chapter 4 which discusses it is entitled “Made in America”.
While the book just flows naturally, it is much more than story telling. It is extremely well researched and annotated. If you are looking for entertainment, this is it. If you want to learn more about numismatics and research a topic further, it is well annotated without breaking the flow of the book.
Without giving away too much, a few things that Robert Van Ryzin discusses:
We all know that US coins contain the motto “In God We Trust”. But which coin was the one that contained this phrase? Just a hint, not one that most people even knew existed.
J.V. McDermott owned one of the five examples of the 1913 Liberty Head nickels. It was an expensive coin, partly due to him inflating the price originally, but it sold for $46000 in 1967. In 2013, a Liberty Head nickel sold for 3.1 million. You will find out why McDermott had no problems loaning it to different exhibits. And much more.
Did you know why the Liberty Head nickel contains the word “Cents”? It has to do with one person who disguised it as something else and confused store owners.
You will also find out who is the buffalo on the Buffalo nickel.
Then there is the 1894 San Francisco dime, of which 24 was minted, and only 10 are known. Not sure where the other 14 are, but there is a story how according to rumors 3 of these dimes were given away in a regular purchase.
As a side note, you will find out that the nickel has three times as much copper as nickel in it. Though this is a well-known fact among coin collectors, I bet if you asked people on the street what is a nickel made of they wouldn’t guess this one.
And many more facts and rumors will make you learn about the coinage and history of the United States.