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Did people confuse half dollars and dollars in early 1800s much?

Mr_SpudMr_Spud Posts: 4,443 ✭✭✭✭✭

The designs are so similar and the denomination wasn’t written on the coins. Do you think some people got confused and mixed them up sometimes? I know they are different sizes, but both are big coins and if you didn’t have one to compare it too it might be tough to tell them apart. In these images both are same size, can you tell which one is the dollar and which one is the half dollar?

Mr_Spud

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    jayPemjayPem Posts: 4,042 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I can.
    But interesting question none the less..

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    amwldcoinamwldcoin Posts: 11,269 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Do you have any problem telling a Barber Half From a Morgan dollar? You could put one in my hand with me blindfolded and I could tell you which is which!

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    airplanenutairplanenut Posts: 21,908 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The size and weight difference is significant. I can't imagine anyone who used the coins regularly would get confused. Maybe someone who all but never held either would have trouble, but certainly I'd think it was less of an issue than quarters vs. SBAs (by feel; obviously those have a different design).

    JK Coin Photography - eBay Consignments | High Quality Photos | LOW Prices | 20% of Consignment Proceeds Go to Pancreatic Cancer Research
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    BaleyBaley Posts: 22,658 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The denomination is on the edges

    Liberty: Parent of Science & Industry

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    BaleyBaley Posts: 22,658 ✭✭✭✭✭

    And yes, it's easy to tell that the 1806 is a half and the 1800 is a dollar 🤔 how could it be the opposite? 😉

    Liberty: Parent of Science & Industry

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    astroratastrorat Posts: 9,221 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Unlikely people would confuse them. In the 19th century, customers and merchants paid close attention to what they used to make purchases. Recall, for much of the century, US silver and gold coins did not circulate widely as they were being shipped out of the country (Gresham's Law). Foreign silver did circulate which necessitated close attention.

    Numismatist Ordinaire
    See http://www.doubledimes.com for a free online reference for US twenty-cent pieces
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    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,931 ✭✭✭✭✭

    No, because most people never had either one in their pocket.

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    BillJonesBillJones Posts: 33,482 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited June 9, 2021 4:16AM

    If there was going to be any confusion, it would have been between the quarter and half dollar. Perhaps that’s why the mint put “1/2” on the reverse of the half dollar in 1796-7 and “25 C.” on the quarter from 1804 to 1807. Anyone who had familiarity with the weight of a silver dollar would have noticed the difference from a half dollar.

    Given the value of a dollar in those days, and the time it took to earn it, the difference would be quite noticeable.

    Retired dealer and avid collector of U.S. type coins, 19th century presidential campaign medalets and selected medals. In recent years I have been working on a set of British coins - at least one coin from each king or queen who issued pieces that are collectible. I am also collecting at least one coin for each Roman emperor from Julius Caesar to ... ?
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    rec78rec78 Posts: 5,690 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Sometimes, I would think.

    image
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    rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Money was precious then, and coins were most frequently used for standard commerce. I am sure the difference was well known. Cheers, RickO

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    Namvet69Namvet69 Posts: 8,672 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I guess, maybe if one were inebriated and had poor vision. Peace Roy

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    TreashuntTreashunt Posts: 6,747 ✭✭✭✭✭

    People in those days were not dumb.

    Frank

    BHNC #203

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    LanceNewmanOCCLanceNewmanOCC Posts: 19,999 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Treashunt said:
    People in those days were not dumb.

    i see the point you are trying to make but that is a very debatable subject, just as it is these days.

    some of the stuff they advertised, including doctors, really makes my head spin. then the poor unfortunate people would think, "well, they are a doctor and i know mercury is poisonous but they know more than i do so i'll go ahead and drink it." ><

    that was a good point about the larger sized quarters vs half dollars w/o denominations.

    i would have thought that the mint put the edge lettering on to make identification easier but when you put them all together, the diameters will dictate that once you know what just one of them are.

    my experience is most people these days really don't pay any close attention over time to their money, coins or bills unless someone/something gives them a reason to. in all the hundreds of time i've used my check card(s) which has my business name on it, i think only 1, maybe 2 have ever commented and the word "coins" is right in the name but whenever i hand them an usual coin/denomination and comment about it, they usually look it over for a second, then look at me then presume i'm honest and stick the coins/bills in the register. i'm batting 1.000 MUCH to my astonishment. canadian, dollar coins, halves, maybe the odd buff/indian cent, $2 bills (most people have at least heard of them) and some other stuff. i NEVER do it to make people feel stupid or to be insulting like i see some ****heads on youtube do. working people are usually in a zone and not apt to be able to do spot-checking on odd stuff off the top of their head, especially if they aren't used to it.

    i've tried to discuss numsimatics with random women online and off and it is just plain hilarious how fast their eyes glaze over and i feel the need to move on with the conversation. doesn't matter if i mention the secret service, counterfeits, robberies, millions of dollars, if it gets even remotely technical, i'm looking for someone else to have a conversation with. not bashing em, just a fact. i think i've ever only said one thing mean and it was online in a room of women and i just simply stated, "for someone whom loves spending money so much, you don't seem to know much about it." it was years ago and since that's not how i am, i did feel the point i was trying to convey came out too harshly.

    ok, ramble over. 3.8 posts average per day for 10+ years is good enough. lol

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    chesterbchesterb Posts: 961 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It was different in those days. Coins were valued by their silver and gold content. Weight was important. If the silver content in the coin was greater than the face value then they disappeared from commerce and were melted. I’m sure there was no confusion.

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    CatbertCatbert Posts: 6,603 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @oldabeintx said:
    Some of the older forum members should be able to comment. :#

    I resemble that remark and since I'm so offended, I won't comment ;)

    So many microaggressions these days! I'm barely coping......

    "Got a flaming heart, can't get my fill"
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    braddickbraddick Posts: 23,113 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I recall growing up and confusing the 20c coin with a quarter.

    peacockcoins

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    WAYNEASWAYNEAS Posts: 6,350 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Would have loved for this post to go on before the answer was revealed.
    I believe that many collectors would have researched the coins and then asked to see the edges.
    Wayne

    Kennedys are my quest...

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    LanceNewmanOCCLanceNewmanOCC Posts: 19,999 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Treashunt said:
    People in those days were not dumb.

    and despite my post above, someone posted the letters to the mint in another thread reminding me of all the letters i've seen/transcribed regarding citizens sending coins back to the mint for odd stuff they noticed. LOL

    LINK

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    3stars3stars Posts: 2,282 ✭✭✭✭✭

    1%er problems... (back then at least)

    Previous transactions: Wondercoin, goldman86, dmarks, Type2
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    johnny9434johnny9434 Posts: 27,508 ✭✭✭✭✭

    i gotta watch for the sba dollars. its easy to mix them up

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    jessewvujessewvu Posts: 5,063 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I've unloaded some half dollars at fast food restaurants and more than once they asked if they were silver dollars.

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    JimsokayJimsokay Posts: 107 ✭✭✭

    @jessewvu said:
    I've unloaded some half dollars at fast food restaurants and more than once they asked if they were silver dollars.

    Hand them a two dollar bill and they will call the cops on you. ;)

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    HydrantHydrant Posts: 7,773 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited June 12, 2021 8:45AM

    I've told this story before, but........It wasn't the early 1800's, but when I was 9 years old my Dad and I went on some sort of business trip to a man's ranch in Wyoming. One night we stayed in Jackson Hole at a cheap little motel. My Dad gave some kid a tip for helping to bring in the luggage. After the kid left the room my Dad said, " DAMN! I gave him a dollar! I thought it was a half dollar!" Just a story that has always stuck with me. Big financial loss back then.

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    mrcommemmrcommem Posts: 1,152 ✭✭✭✭

    The only reason the public confuses coinages today is because it is almost worthless. The buying power of a dollar now is about 25 times less than it was in the mid 60's. A snickers bar larger than todays was only 5 cents.

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    LanceNewmanOCCLanceNewmanOCC Posts: 19,999 ✭✭✭✭✭

    OLD THREAD

    this goes to some half dimes and dimes as well.

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    NeophyteNumismatistNeophyteNumismatist Posts: 888 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Back then... didn't merchants weigh the coins? They were trading all sorts of silver, and "bits" cut from coins, right? I would think that the bullion weight would be the driving factor of value in those times. (but I am making assumptions like crazy)

    I am a newer collector (started April 2020), and I primarily focus on U.S. Half Cents and Type Coins. Early copper is my favorite.

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    PerryHallPerryHall Posts: 45,430 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Merchants and bankers didn't have a problem determining the value of early US half dollar and dollar coins but apparently a few common folks did because it didn't take very long for the mint to move the denomination from the edge of the coins where it was very difficult to see to the reverse face of the coins where it is more visible.

    Worry is the interest you pay on a debt you may not owe.

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    BillJonesBillJones Posts: 33,482 ✭✭✭✭✭

    “Normal folk” may have had trouble distinguishing half dollars from dollars because they may not have seen half dollars that much. When the saw a larger silver coin, they might have been confused. The mintages for the Spanish 4 reales or half dollar were low as evidenced by the fact that they are scarce today, much scarcer than the dollar or 8 reale coin.

    The same was generally true for the U.S. coins until the mint stopped issuing dollars in 1804. The reason was the half dollar was an “orphan denomination.” Fifty cents was a substantial part of a day’s wages in the 18th and early 19th centuries, but the dollar was more convenient for governments and merchants who were moving larger sums of money. Therefore far more dollars or 8 reales were minted.

    Retired dealer and avid collector of U.S. type coins, 19th century presidential campaign medalets and selected medals. In recent years I have been working on a set of British coins - at least one coin from each king or queen who issued pieces that are collectible. I am also collecting at least one coin for each Roman emperor from Julius Caesar to ... ?
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    OnastoneOnastone Posts: 3,786 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The dollars were used for interbank transactions only.

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    JWPJWP Posts: 17,663 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'll ask my great great uncle next time I visit him in the cemetery. I'm sure he would know.

    USN & USAF retired 1971-1993
    Successful Transactions with more than 100 Members

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    LanceNewmanOCCLanceNewmanOCC Posts: 19,999 ✭✭✭✭✭

    i bet they were less confused that me at times just looking at images. at least in-hand, you have a size referenced as previously mentioned. images w/o scale can be QUITE deceiving!

    <--- look what's behind the mask! - cool link 1/NO ~ 2/NNP ~ 3/NNC ~ 4/CF ~ 5/PG ~ 6/Cert ~ 7/NGC 7a/NGC pop~ 8/NGCF ~ 9/HA archives ~ 10/PM ~ 11/NM ~ 12/ANACS cert ~ 13/ANACS pop - report fakes 1/ACEF ~ report fakes/thefts 1/NCIS - Numi-Classes SS ~ Bass ~ Transcribed Docs NNP - clashed coins - error training - V V mm styles -

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    BUFFNIXXBUFFNIXX Posts: 2,701 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I recall growing up and confusing the 1856 large cent with the 1856 flying eagle cent

    Collector of Buffalo Nickels and other 20th century United States Coinage
    a.k.a "The BUFFINATOR"

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