The June 2010 issue of the John Reich Journal has a short article by Henry Hilgard about an interesting piece of obsolete paper money illustrating a U.S. half dollar. Editor Brad Karoleff kindly forwarded the illustrations and text for use here in The E-Sylum. Thanks! Here's a substantial excerpt.
An Attributable Bust Half Image on an 1837 Tennessee Note
At the Whitman Baltimore Expo coin show in November, 2009, Stuart Levine brought out an amazing Tennessee exchange note that depicts the reverse of a capped bust half dollar in full mirror image (Figures 1 and 2). Stu insisted that the image had been taken directly from a genuine bust half dollar, and he asked for some attribution help.
Because the note was issued in 1837, it seemed logical to start with the reverses of 1836, the last year of the capped bust half dollar. Out came the Overton book, but there were no matches for 1836. And similarly, no matches for 1835, 1834, or 1833. But just as hope was fading, along came 1832 reverse C, used only (so far as we know) on the Overton 103 variety. That was it! David Kahn carefully studied the note and confirmed the attribution.
This remarkable note was lot # 4424 in Stack's auction of the Lawrence R. Stack Collection of Numismatic Images on American Paper Currencies (January 15, 2008).
By what method was the mirror image of reverse C of 1832 transferred to this note? Bruce Hagen, who wrote the catalog description for this note, has suggested that the half dollar was inserted, reverse up, directly into a woodblock plate and left there during the printing of the note from the plate. If this were the case, it would certainly explain the presence of the mirror image.
What a pleasure it was to study this rare note, in exceptional condition, from a fascinating era in U.S. history, bearing an image of an attributable capped bust half dollar!
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