Jul 29, 2012, 05:16 PM
Half Dime set in Lead - Help!
Found this at a yard sale yesterday. It appears to be a half dime set in lead, but I can't figure out why. I don't even know if it's a real coin, although it appears to be silver. The lead is cup shaped, and on the reverse there is a spot of brass or copper in the center. I put the modern dime next to it for size reference, but even though they look to be the same size in the pic, the half dime is a little bit smaller. Not sure how much of the edge of the coin is in the lead though. Since I've never seen an actual half dime, I don't know how big they are. Any ideas on why it is set in lead, or if it is a real coin? It has me puzzled.
Jul 29, 2012, 05:32 PM
At first glance, it may have been a home-made button, but the shank could have broken off and then rubbed smooth. Just a wild guess.
Jul 30, 2012, 04:19 AM
The coin looks real enough, clearly a homemade??
I wonder if it was made for some kind of game? (looks a little puck like!)
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Jul 30, 2012, 07:10 AM
A half dime is smaller than a dime, it looks real to me but don't know why it would have been set in lead.
Jul 30, 2012, 07:27 AM
Maybe done just for the "sam halibut" .. seemed like a good thing to do at the time.
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Jul 30, 2012, 07:41 AM
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I have no idea what or why, but that's a pretty neat find!
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Jul 31, 2012, 10:06 AM
Marks on and around the coin indicate that it has been hit hard with something round. That might also explain the harder metal in the center on the backside.
Was someone attempting to make counterfeits? I know this would give you a reverse image... Or are those marks from the coin being hammered into the lead object?
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Jul 31, 2012, 02:38 PM
I agree with Cru; I think it was made as some type of game piece. Umpteen years ago during the Viking era, coins were set in lead for gaming. Maybe this is a more modern version. Here's a website with a little info on it:
Originally Posted by CRUSADER
Viking ‘Embedded Coin’ Gaming Piece 009676
Neat find Breezie
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Jul 31, 2012, 05:32 PM
Thanks for playing. You lose.
Looks the same size as the dime. Half dimes are a lot smaller. I think you have a dime in that bowl.
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Jul 31, 2012, 06:18 PM
Skrimpy. The coin has 5c on it so it is a half dime and looks real but I don't know what it would have been used for. Tennessee digger
Aug 19, 2014, 07:41 PM
I bring up this old thread because I may be able to add a little bit of insight into the possible identity of the encased half dime shown. I have accumulated a small accumulation of 10 of these items, all different but all very similar. Each of the ten encased half dimes I have all contain genuine United States half dimes (as does the OP's), and all are encased with the obverse up. Yours is the very first one I have seen with the reverse up. I have carefully weighed and measured each of the items in my possession, and all are slightly different in both weight (mass) and diameter. The diameters range from a maximum of 29.83 mm to a minimum of 26.30 mm. The thickness of the objects also varied greatly, with no two the same. They range from a maximum of 11.01 mm to a minimum of 5.27 mm. The weights varied substantially, ranging from a high of 39.08 G to a low of 13.66 G for the examples with the coins still intact. I have one example where someone has removed the coin (also a half dime). For the example with the coin removed, the mass was 11.68 G, but if we add the mass of a ‘new’ half dime (1.35 G) the total would be 13.03 G, similar to other examples in my random study. I was able to conduct a specific gravity test on the example with the coin removed (the only example with just one metal present), and determined that the specific gravity was 6.50, well below the specific gravity of lead (11.34), or even German silver (8.74). The object is undoubtedly an alloy of a lesser density than lead, but still heavy. To be sure, this is the specific gravity of just that one object, and may not be the same for the others.
I took five of these objects to the recent American Numismatic Association (ANA) 'World's Fair of Money', in Chicago, last week and showed them to several dozen numismatic experts, and not one person was able to positively identify these objects, why they were made, or for what purpose. Fully four dealers there were able to add to my accumulation of these objects, however, and I came home with nine!
I would be curious to learn if the OP's example has been measured and weighed, and if they have any additional information on it. I am currently writing an article on these objects which will be published in two numismatic journals, and hope that someone will be able to identify exactly what they are. I will be happy to report back here if I am successful in determining exactly what they are.
Any information that members here can provide would be greatly appreciated.
Aug 19, 2014, 07:49 PM
thanks for the added info. Can you provide a photo of yours? Do your pieces also have the copper/brass center on the bottom?
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Aug 19, 2014, 08:10 PM
Aug 19, 2014, 08:33 PM
I am, at present, unable to post pictures of the examples that I have accumulated. But to answer your question, the reverses of all of my examples all tend to vary slightly. One example has a distinct 'dimple'' on the reverse, acting like a pivot point around which the object can spin, prompting at least one observer to declare it a 'spinner'. All of the others do not exhibit the reverse dimple, and are sufficiently out of balance to make them very poor 'spinners'. One of the examples does also have a 'dimple' on the reverse, but it is recessed into the casting. Several of the other examples do exhibit a small area on the reverse of lighter colored metal, looking like brass (Like the OP's example), as if normal wear on the high point of the reverse had worn away a coating to expose a brass colored metal underneath. However, on the example from which the coin has been removed (by others, prior to my purchasing it) there is a cavity where the coin had been with the impression of the reverse of the half dime. However, the metal of the encasement is a dark gray color, is uniform in appearance (with no brass color), and there are several large air bubbles in the metal, indicating that the encasement metal was poured around the coin. This would mean that the encasement metal must have a significantly lower melting point than a 90% silver coin (1,763°F, 961.8°C).
It had been suggested by at least one observer at the ANA that the items might be molds for making cast counterfeit half dimes, as suggested by Bradyboy. My guess is that this was not their purpose as the half dimes were apparently held very securely by the encasement, making them very difficult to remove, and the impression left in the one example I have with the coin removed is extremely crude, with many irregularities and air bubbles. I am reluctant to dismiss any suggestion, as I do not know what they were made for, but it does not appear that these would have been molds for cast counterfeits. Most of the molds used for cast counterfeits were filled with very fine grained sand (silica), which can readily assume an impression of a coin and has an extremely high melting point.
Aug 20, 2014, 08:27 AM
I will take a wild guess - could it be civil war trench art? A projectile cut in half? I think there were CW shells that had a brass tip.
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