Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me! (Numismatic Version)

If you share my interest in the program of this name, the regular version that is, on National Public Radio each Saturday morning, you might like to play this game. I did a similar quiz some time ago and received several favorable comments.

The object is to find out which of these three stories is real. Two are fakes. Here you go!

(1) When the Confederacy collapsed in April 1865, two sacks of gold coins held by the CSA government in Richmond were put in the hands of President Jefferson Davis, who turned them over to an agent who defaulted and kept them. The agent, Lafayette Baker, was captured near Front Royal, Virginia, who surrendered to the Union authorities and turned over all but $145 which he had spent. An 1851-C gold dollar and an 1850-O double eagle from the treasure are in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian but are currently not on view.

(2) The 1925 Fort Vancouver commemorative half dollars were struck at the San Francisco Mint, but someone forgot to put the S mintmark on the die. As if this is not curious enough, when the coins were ready, instead of shipping them by car or train to the ceremony at the fort site in Washington State they were loaded aboard a biplane piloted by Lt. Oakley G. Kelly and flown there. A huge mintage of 300,000 was authorized by Congress, but just 50,028 were struck. Interest in the coins did not come up to expectations even for that amount and 35,034 unsold pieces were later melted.

(3) On July 12, 1792, Martha Washington went by carriage to the newly-opened Philadelphia Mint (that city being the seat of the government at the time, and President and Mrs. Washington lived only a few blocks away), and posed for artist Robert Birch, who sketched her portrait which he used when engraving a coinage die (which took three days to prepare). On July 21, using silver personally provided by the president, coiner Joel Poinsett (who had worked as an apprentice at the Royal Mint in London before emigrating to America in 1791) struck about 1,800 half dismes (the exact number was not recorded). The first two went to the president and his wife, the next to Thomas Jefferson, and others to Cabinet members.

How did you do?

The envelope please!

The correct answer is No. 2.

See you next week!

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