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1868 "Large Cent" 10¢ Pattern J-647


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186810centspattern.jpg

 

Ever since I was a kid and read about these in CoinAge, I was fascinated with these mint patterns. They were created in 1868, when the mint was looking at alternatives to coining the dime in silver, because of post-Civil War coin shortages of the coin. Approximately two dozen of these coins are known in nickel as the above coin, and another two dozen struck in copper. The coin has plain edge and is Judd-647.

 

Curiously they used an leftover hub from the Longacre Large Cents for the obverse of this coin, with the 1868 date, it could almost be an 1868 Large Cent, but for the reverse. This coin weighs exactly twice the weight of a contemporary nickel or 5¢ coin.

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Curiously they used an leftover hub from the Longacre Large Cents for the obverse of this coin, with the 1868 date, it could almost be an 1868 Large Cent, but for the reverse.

And then some wise guy at the mint dug up an old Braided hair large cent reverse die and they DID strike off some 1868 large cents.

 

I believe the reason they were considering the copper ten cent piece was because at the time they were looking at the problem of redeeming all of the fractional currency that had been issued since the latter half of the Civil War and they were loath to redeem all that intrinsically worthless paper with good silver. So several measures were looked at including a debased silver coinage with a limited legal tender status to be used specifically for its redemption, and a base metal coinage (such as the 1868 copper dime). Eventually though as silver coinage began flooding back into the country in the 1870's they were able to stop issuing fractional currency and rather than having to do a planned redemption the problem solved itself as the notes were lost, put away and forgotten, or simply wore out.

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I think I quite possibly have wanted one of these longer than you have been around :ninja:

 

The gray hair on the obverse scan is proof of this... ;)

 

Beautiful coin.

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