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NNP Blog

Jan 10 2021

The 1894-S Dime in 1896

Recently transcribed by Newman Portal is a letter written by Philadelphia resident Anna Clark to the U.S. Mint Director in 1896, asking about the collector value of 1894 dimes. Although brief, the letter reveals a number of things regarding the state of collecting in the late 19th century. First, there were no ubiquitous references that might have been known to the letter writer. Today, Guide Book has filled that role for nearly 75 years, not to mention the explosion of other references on the Internet. The letter writer was also apparently unaware that local dealers would be a source of ready and accurate information (the Chapman brothers in Philadelphia were well established by this time), and instead applies directly to the Mint Director to answer her query. Finally, the nature of the query suggests there was already some public consciousness regarding the 1894-S dime and its potential value. The all-important detail of the mintmark was lost in translation, not surprising in the era before millions of coin boards served to educate the general public about coin collecting.

Link to Anna Clark letter related to 1894 dimes on NNP: https://archive.org/details/are1894dimesworth5doleach18960109/page/n1/mode/2up
Link to National Archives content on Newman Portal: https://nnp.wustl.edu/Library/Archives?searchLetter=U
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