1875-S 20 Cent with Reeded Edge
Roger Burdette, author of United States Pattern and Experimental Pieces of WW-II, and prolific researcher and author, dug out in the National Archives a fascinating discussion on the 1875-S twenty cent piece. The correspondence is between James Crawford, Superintendent of the Carson City Mint, and Henry Richard Linderman, who was the Director of the United States Mint.
Minted from 1875 to 1878, the twenty cent piece was one of the shortest production coins struck by the U.S. Mint. When placed in circulation, the U.S. Mint discovered a major problem. People complained that it was difficult to differentiate between the twenty cent piece and the twenty-five cent coin that was produced during the same time. The twenty cent piece was the only silver coin produced at the time with a plain edge. All of the other silver coins that were struck had a reeded edge.
A telegraph was sent on June 1, 1875 by Crawford, asking the Director of the Mint in Washington DC if the twenty cent piece should have a plain or reeded edge. Roger Burdette discovered a related correspondence from 1877 from Robert E. Preston, the Acting Director of the United States Mint, to the Superintendent of the San Francisco Mint. In the letter, Preston was inquiring about the reeding on a twenty cent piece since they struck with a plain edge. He wanted to know if the San Francisco Mint had ever struck any twenty cent pieces with a reeded edge or if the reeding had been added after, outside of the Mint.
Looking back at this correspondence and debate regarding this 1875-S twenty cent piece, it is possible that it was a mint error and somehow was struck with a reeded edge at the San Francisco Mint.
|Here is the content of the telegraph:|
The Western Union Telegraph Company
June 1, 1875
Received at N.E. cor. 14th St. and Penna. Ave 355PM
To Hon HR Lyderman [sic]
Shall we make the twenty cent piece plain or reeded on edge ?
|Here is the content of the letter:|
March 2, 1877
O.H. La Grange, Esq.
Supt. U.S. Mint
I enclose herewith a twenty cent piece struck in 1875 at your mint. Instead of having a plain edge, this piece is reeded.
I have to request that you will ascertain whether any of the first pieces made at San Francisco were struck in a reeded collar, in order to determine if this piece has been tampered with, subsequent to its issue.
Please return the coin with your report thereon to this office.