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The history of United States coinage is a story that parallels the rise of America. Starting from a humble beginning in a basement in Philadelphia in the first few years of the country, it grew to a large highly sophisticated system that produces millions of coins per year. Due to a lack of silver, the first silver coins produced by the Mint came from silverware contributed by George and Martha Washington. Coins are something we take for granted today and put in jars and baskets on our night stands to accumulate for a rainy day when we need a few extra dollars. For more than half of the history of America, that wouldn't have been possible for the average citizen. It wasn't until after the Civil War that coinage became widely used for all types of transactions. Until that time, barter and money substitutes, such as tokens, script, and foreign coins, were used as a mediums of exchange. During the 1830's, and then again during the Civil War, coins were in such short supply that merchants and private individuals began producing cent-sized coins, just to make change for the day to day transactions. In America, it was legal until 1857 to use foreign money in transactions. The Spanish dollars and their fractional parts, called "bits," were very common during colonial times until the mid-1800s.
30 Minute Book SeriesEach book in the "30 Minute Book Series" is fast paced, well written, and accurate for a book that covers the topic in as much detail as a short book allows. In less than an hour, you can read or listen to the book - a perfect companion for a lunch hour or a nice distraction for a train ride home from work.
About the AuthorDoug West is a retired engineer, small business owner, and an experienced non-fiction writer with several books to his credit. His writing interests are general, with special expertise in science, biographies, numismatics, and "How to" topics. Doug has a Ph.D. in General Engineering from Oklahoma State University.
In the month of August, 1856, the bark Northampton was lying in the harbor of San Diego. In spite of the awning spread over her deck the heat was almost unbearable. Not a breath of wind was stirring in the land-locked harbor, and the bare and arid country round the town afforded no relief to the eye. The town itself looked mean and poverty-stricken, for it was of comparatively modern growth, and contained but a few buildings of importance. Long low warehouses fringed the shore, for here came for shipping vast quantities of hides; as San Diego, which is situated within a few miles of the frontier between the United States and Mexico, is the sole sheltered port available for shipping between San Francisco and the mouth of the Gulf of California. Two or three other ships which were, like the Northampton, engaged in shipping hides, lay near her. A sickening odor rose from the half-cured skins as they were swung up from boats alongside and lowered into the hold, and in spite of the sharp orders of the mates, the crew worked slowly and listlessly.
This price guide is a book for the collector rather than the scholar and, as such, has to be pocket-sized and inexpensive. It assumes that the reader will be more interested in assigning a coin to its proper period or Emperor than in working out the meaning of the design on the reverse and, therefore, whilst most of the usual obverse portraits and legends are illustrated, the reverses are dealt with in a much more cursory manner. As an aid to identification, all illustrations are as close to life-sized as possible. Remember, that often Roman coins are not completely circular like modern coins. Further, not all Roman base-metal coins are included. This is a selection of the available material, including the vast majority of the coins the collector is likely to encounter in 'real life'.
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