As we say goodbye to 2023 and say hello to 2024, I can’t help but think back on what an amazing year it has been for both my dad and I! As a senior in college studying communications and journalism, writing for MethuenLife has been nothing short of amazing to me. Getting to share our passion for this hobby on a monthly basis, and the tons of stories associated with it, is beyond rewarding. We appreciate everyone who reads this every month and look forward to writing future columns.
But also going into this year, I want to talk about a “white whale” (item that I strive to find that I have not found yet) that I hope to find eventually. It’s the not-so-talked-about Twenty-Cent Piece. Most people have never even heard of it as it was only minted from 1875 to 1878. And only two of those years it was actually minted for circulation. The short life of this coin is due to its size. A Twenty-Cent Piece was almost identical in size to a quarter, which often caused confusion when transactions occurred. Because of this, the coin was pulled from being produced in circulation.
That part of the story covers only the first two years it was produced; the other two years were for a completely different reason. In 1877 and 1878, they were only produced in “proof” sets for collectors. A proof set is a complete set of a coin that includes every year and mint it had. And it was strictly minted in that manner for the remaining two years.
The coin was minted in three locations: San Francisco (an S mintmark), Carson City (a CC mintmark) and Philadelphia (no mintmark). In its first year of production, the San Francisco mint produced around 1.1 million of these coins, the most out of the other two mints. In Carson City they produced a much lesser amount of about 133,000 in the first year, then about 10,000 in the second year, 1876. And finally, Philadelphia produced the least of out of the three with about 40,000 in 1875, and 16,000 in 1876.
As you can imagine, this coin is extremely sought after by many metal detectorist. We consider this a “white whale” because of its rarity and the low amount that were minted. This coin is beautiful; it features a “Seated Liberty” design on the front, encircled by 13 stars signifying the original 13 colonies of the United States. Then the back of the coin shows a bald eagle facing to the left, with “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” above it and “TWENTY CENTS” underneath it.
To find one of these would be an absolute dream come true, and beyond its actual value the historical value would represent much more to me. Here’s to a treasure-filled 2024, and a happy new year to all!
Methuen father/son treasure hunters Steve and Jonathan Stewart were the August 2019 MethuenLife cover story. They run YouTube, Facebook and Instagram accounts called Mass Metal Detecting and have followers around the globe. They love to save history and enjoy talking about it. If you’d like to invite them to your property for a hunt, you may be included in a future article! Please drop them a note via MethuenLife@msn.com.