I. R. Bama's Blog

01 Nov 2020

"Carry Me Back to Ol' Virginny" Part One: The Jefferson 400th Commemorative Silver Dollar

Coins-United States | I. R. Bama

" To be a Virginian either by birth, marriage or adoption, or even on one's mother's side is an introduction to any state in the Union, a passport to any country and a benediction from above" (anonymous).

On Friday, I visited one of the two coin shops I usually visit to get an opinion of some coins I had recently purchased. Having recently completed the ANA correspondence course on grading U.S. coins, I wanted to see how my newly acquired grading skills had improved with an objective evaluation. I plan on taking them to at least one more dealer or two and average their results and compare them to mine,

When I ask for a dealer's professional opinion, I think that one should make a purchase from that dealer. He just did you a favor. That always seems to engender good will over the long haul. " You can ask anyone, Don Corleone knows how to repay a favor" Vito Corleone. Good philosophy, don't you think?

Well, being a Virginian, I have had my eye on these two modern commemoratives for several years. Though I am generally not a fan of modern commemoratives, I grew up in and around Charlottesville. If you know anything about that area, we are all about the Old Dominion and Thomas Jefferson. We value our history and cherish our past. There is a joke: How many Virginians does it take to change a light bulb? 10! One to actually change the light bulb and nine to stand around admiring the old one!

The first coin is the Thomas Jefferson 250th Anniversary coin, minted in 1993. To my eye, this is a beautiful and well executed coin. It was designed by T. James Ferrell who is the staff engraver at the U.S. mint and the staff sculptor at the Franklin mint. Born in 1939, he was educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He was appointed as engraver at the Philadelphia mint in 1989 and retired from this position in 2003. His designs on our coinage are far too many to include in this article, but you may see a list here:http://www.medalartists.com/ferrell-tj.html He was quite prolific in his designs.

From Mega Red Deluxe Edition, 1st edition: the coin weighs 26.73, though the certificate of authenticity lists the weight as +/- .4 grams. It is 38.1 mm but again, the certificate of authenticity states it varies +/- 0.08 mm in diameter. It has a reeded edge and is composed of.90% silver and 10% copper.

Personally, I am troubled by these variations, which is also true of the Jamestown 400th commemorative. This may be due to my ignorance on the subject but I thought that the mint released coins with such tight tolerances in measurement that these variations in their products was just not done. I turn to you, my fellow numismatists to enlighten me on the subject.

The obverse features a design depicting Thomas Jefferson facing left. Ferrell's design was based on an 1805 painting by Gilbert Stuart. I have included the image of this work of art. Jefferson considered Stuart's portrait as one of the most accurate images of him ever produced.

The reverse design features Jefferson's home, Monticello, which I have visited numerous times over the years. It was built by his own design and features many innovations at that the time could only be called ingenious. Visiting is like watching a favorite movie over and over, you always notice something you didn't pick up on before. If you ever have the opportunity, its definitely a bucket list trip for the student of American History.

The coin was minted in Philadelphia and San Francisco; the former strikes (266,927) were uncirculated and the latter strikes (332.891) were proof. The coin I purchased was the San Francisco proof.

Part 2 of this series will be a writeup of the 2007Jamestown 400th Commemorative coin, coming soon to a blog near you! Don't miss it!


Long Beard

Level 5

I make it a point to stop at Mitchie Tavern (1794) every time I pass by. Why? Because much of this country originated in a tavern! Cheers!

I. R. Bama

Level 5

Oh! I thought maybe you are a huge fan of fried Chicken!!!!! Lol!


Level 5

I LOVE that quote! Thanks for sharing! Might I add that I love the design of the coin as well! Cheers, NM


Level 5

Very historical state. Despite it being a relatively plane design I really like this commemorative. To be honest, I like most of them.


Level 5

Beautiful coin and the likeness of Monticello is the best ever done in my opinion. As for Virginia, I drove in my first snow storm on I64 between Williamsburg and York County. Great informative Blog Bama, Thanks!


Level 6

It is always nice to have a good working relationship with dealers. TJ was an interesting person. I also have this coin in my collection

It's Mokie

Level 6

I also have the Thomas Jefferson commemorative in my collection, the bust on the obverse is executed to perfection and even Monticello looks great (I normally think building are horrible coin subjects). As for the tolerance, in the Mint's defense, that level of variation is whisker thin and is probably common throughout the mints of the world.

I. R. Bama

Level 5

Thanks for that comment, Mokie, I was interested in hearing about the differences in tolerances in coins from the mint

I've never heard that joke but I love it! Even though the commemorative displays the same person and house as other coins, it does it much differently so it is another whole look. I like the monticello on this commem better than the one on the nickel. Have a great dayI.R. Bama!


Level 6

Beautiful coin! Enjoyed your blog very much ; )


Level 7

That's the coin that came in the set. So he broke the set up and sold the matte nickel by its self and the two dollar low serial star note.. It's a beautiful set. Tells the story of his life. Those sets made by the mint I liked them.. Great blog. Maybe next time you will get the nickle! I enjoyed the blog. I also never heard that saying. Because we don't live in Virginia!! Keep them coming!!


Level 5

I resemble those remarks Longstrider ! Well written post Bama. It does my "ol" heart good to hear you talk about the state of my birth in such gracious terms ! As we've talked about previously, my real dad lived in Bumpass, Va., near Mineral and Orange, just right past Charlottesville. I've traveled I-64 many times going to pick him up when he was in a retirement home in King George. Thanks for the fond memories ! I look forward to the next installment!


Level 5

Great state of Virginia ! Ive traveled through Charlottesville, but have not stopped to see the sites. Been up and down I81 many times though, and seen a lot. Beautiful coin. Definately want to visit Jefferson's home.


Level 6

I've never heard that saying before. I really like it. Virginia does love it's past. How can you go wrong studying our past. I feel bad about the revisionist histroy being talk now. Yes, histroy can be painful. That's why it is so imortant to study it. Learn from it. Oh well, the rants of a creepy old man. Nice blog Bama. I look forward to the next one. Thanks.

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