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Not Much was Minted in 1815
By Ginger Rapsus, Numismatic News
February 26, 2014

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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The year 1815 is special for the fact that it is the only year when a United States cent was not minted. Collectors who want coins dated 1815 don’t have much to find. There is a quarter, a half dollar with an overdate, and a rare $5 gold.

Quarters dated 1815 were the first of that denomination struck since 1807. The Capped Bust design by John Reich, used on silver coins of this era, was used on the quarter. Mintage was 89,235.

Bust quarters are not as popular as Bust half dollars. While Bust half dollars have a specialty club, with collectors who specialize in finding the many varieties available, the quarters have a smaller following.

The John Reich collectors’ group welcomes numismatists who study the smaller Bust coins, including quarters. The Bust quarter series has its share of varieties and undiscovered scarcities.

Check the prices on lower grade 1815 quarters. Not too painful, for a silver coin almost 200 years old and an unknown number of survivors. And to make this coin more interesting, a number of them have counterstamps of the letters E, L, or R.

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The 1815 half dollars are overdates, with a “2” seen under the “5.” Total mintage was only 47,150, making it a key date in the popular series of Capped Bust halves. Bust Half Nuts, historians, overdate fans, and half dollar collectors will want an 1815/2 half dollar. Many are available in very fine condition – not excessively worn, but not Mint State.

And then, there is a rarity. The 1815 half eagle, with a total mintage of only 635, low even by 1815 standards. Less than a dozen are known to exist, with many impounded in museums. The Smithsonian owns one, which was part of the Josiah K. Lilly gold collection. Louis Eliasberg owned one of course; and Harry Bass owned two. One of the Bass coins is on display at the American Numismatic Association Museum in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Recent research has brought some publicity to this rare coin. Overshadowed by its famous brother, the 1822 half eagle with only three known, the 1815 half eagle had a fraction of the mintage of the 1822, but both coins had low survival rates. Many half eagles of this era (1813-1834) were melted for their gold, when the metallic value was worth more than the face value of the coins.

The year 1815 was a remarkable year for United States coinage, if not as famous or as publicized as other years. The lack of collectible coins of this date and the absence of an 1815-dated large cent make this year special to numismatists, especially those interested in early 19th century coinage.

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