Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Fantasy Coins: The Strange Business of The Moonlight Mint


Fantasy Coins: The Strange Business of The Moonlight Mint

Let’s strike a new design and date on a perfectly good old coin

From my personal collection. All photos by Author

You might never have had an Indian Head cent as change unless you are an old codger like me. It’s a pretty coin, isn’t it? It’s what our pennies looked like until the Lincoln Cent replaced that design in 1909.

But wait — that coin in the picture is from 1910. It must be a fake, right?

No, it’s not. It’s a genuine Indian Head cent. But it’s also true that the United States Mint stopped making Indian Head cents in 1909. How can both these things be true?

Note: All my coins are in a safe deposit box. Nothing is kept in my home.

Let me show you another one.

From my collection

The Peace Dollars were minted from 1921 to 1928, again from 1934 to 1935, and then one more time in 2021. None were made in 1965, but the coin shown above is a genuine Peace Dollar.

What’s going on?

It’s time to introduce you to Daniel Carr and his Moonlight Mint.

Daniel makes fantasy coins. Some of them are his own original designs but others mimic designs of genuine coins but with impossible dates. But mimicry of U.S. coins would be counterfeiting, wouldn’t it? Well, no, not if the coins are stamped with the word “COPY”. Collectors will sometimes buy copies like this to fill in rare dates that are too expensive to afford.

But neither of the coins shown here have COPY stamped on them.

The reason these are not illegal is odd, but according to Daniel himself, the Mint and the U.S. Government agree that he is doing nothing wrong. What he does is use genuine coins and over-strike them with his designs. So my 1910 coin was struck on a genuine Indian cent and the 1965 dollar was a real Peace dollar of a real date.

The dates Daniel uses are dates that never existed and every coin sold has a disclaimer with it that states “Do not attempt to use these as legal tender. This product is NOT endorsed or approved by the US Mint, US Treasury, or US Government.”

Daniel has produced an impressive number of these fantasy overstrikes destarting in 2011 and continuing to the present day. I only have a few of these curious pieces myself, but enough people collect them to make the more rare coins quite valuable. Daniel mints a certain number and then destroys the dies, so no more will be made.

Counterfeit fantasies

Somewhat amusingly, because some of his work has become hard to get, countefeits of his coins exist. ANACS, the American Numismatic Association Certification Service, certifies Moonlight Mint coins for buyer protection.

You might have a Daniel Carr design in your pocket

Daniel Carr is also the designer of the US Mint New York and Rhode Island State Quarters, which are genuine U.S. Mint produced coins. The interview about how he submitted designs to the Mint is interesting.

Daniel Carr Interview: 

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