Perhaps the first question a reader would have regarding the United States twenty-cent piece is, “How can a book be written about a coin that was only minted for four years?” A quick look at this short series reveals that, as a series, it has so much to offer. Consider that the twenty-cent piece offers a rich history – a major rarity with a story all its own, low mintages, three different mint locations, proof-only issues, and numerous interesting varieties including misplaced date digits and a re-punched mintmark. In addition to these complexities, though, I believe that the answer has much to do with timing – this is a critical juncture where collecting of die varieties within the Liberty Seated series is just beginning to take off.

Prior to 1908, collecting Liberty Seated coins even by date and mintmark was unusual, as most serious collectors sought only to obtain one example of each year minted within a series and paid little or no attention to mintmarks. After A. G. Heaton published his groundbreaking text, A Treatise on the Coinage of the United States Branch Mints, in 1893, though, collecting by both date and mintmark became popularized. Still, the Liberty Seated series were not especially popular and collecting these series was considered very unusual.

This began to change after August of 1974 when, at the ANA convention in Bar Harbor, Florida, a group of interested numismatists formed the Liberty Seated Collectors Club. Led by dealer specialist Kamal Ahwash and collector John McCloskey, this small club would blossom into a membership of approximately 700 individuals. With an informational journal published three times a year, the sharing of information about these formerly mysterious series began to explode. In recent years, a number of books and web books have been published which highlight individual Liberty Seated coin series by die pair variety. This has opened the door to a whole new avenue of collecting previously only available to collectors of earlier coinage. The twenty-cent piece, in particular, looks to be the perfect series to collect in this manner, as it is short lived enough to present a light at the end of the tunnel, but abundant enough to challenge even an advanced numismatist.

In addition to what I believe is perfect timing, we are also blessed with the perfect authors. Numismatists John Frost and Lane Brunner both possess not only the necessary numismatic skills, but also the desire to learn and share. Perhaps more importantly – both possess a passion for the twenty-cent series. When John Frost approached me and asked my thoughts about writing a book on twenty-cent coinage, I immediately thought of Lane Brunner. I knew Lane had been studying the series for a long time and, like John, Lane possessed an unending numismatic curiosity. An introduction was arranged and both future authors were pleasantly surprised in how much new information they had to offer each other. Presented here is the summation of both of their studies.

So enjoy this adventure into this interesting, short-lived series. You will learn about the fascinating history of the coinage, the unique attributes of each date within the series, detailed descriptions of each known die pair, and much more!

Brian Greer

Copyright © 2013-2014, by Lane J. Brunner and John M. Frost, All rights reserved.