The Variety Hunter: Newfoundland 50-Cents, 1899.
By: MICC Lifetime member #001
50 CENTS, 1899.
Current catalogues recognize only two varieties of the Newfoundland 50-cents of 1899: what they call “Small 9” and “Large 9”. First of all, the 9s are the same size and I believe that the term “Fine 9” and “Coarse 9” is more appropriate. The same catalogues also show only the date itself, without reference to its position to the beading – which the pictures below show is very different and very easy to differentiate.
According to the Zoell catalogue, the most common of the four varieties is the “Fine 9 / Low Date”, followed by the “Coarse 9 / Low Date” which is possibly twice as scarce. Scarcer still is the “Coarse 9 / High Date”, with the “Fine 9 / High Date” somewhat scarcer that the last. This is in contrast to the standard catalogues that list the “Fine 9” (in total) as being worth something more than twice the “Coarse 9” (in total). With an overall mintage of only 125,000, it may be seen that one or more of these varieties is very scarce indeed.
Top Left: “Coarse 9 / Low Date”; Bottom Left: “Coarse 9 / High Date”; Top Right: “Fine 9 / Low Date”; Bottom Right: “Fine 9 / High Date”.
One small oddity is that from the above photos, it’s obvious that the two “Coarse 9” punches were actually different from one another, that used on the “Coarse 9/High Date” having more prounounced ovals in the upper part of the figures.
Then we have the official figures that do not jibe with what we see above. According to the official report of the Royal Mint, only 2(!) reverse dies were used to strike the 1899 Newfoundland 50-cent pieces, whereas we can quite plainly see there were four. Nor can these be explained away as left-overs; only 2 dies were recorded for 1898 and but 1 for 1896.
Previously printed in the MICC Numismatic Journal Vol-02, Issue-01