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Obama wants cheaper pennies and nickels


Dockwalliper
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On the Numismatic side: Coin World has had several articles in the last year or so about the cost of coining both coins. Yes it seems that something needs to be done as far as the cost of the base metals. But there is much more about the production cost of the coins. Most items cost more today then before. Many of the root causes that drive the price of groceries, fuel, etc drive up the cost of coin production. Maybe thats were O-blab-a should look.

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The real savings of course would be to discontinue the cent coin altogether and change the nickel to the cent composition or perhaps the Canadian composition.

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There are some people calling for the elimination of the nickel (e.g., Dick Johnson), and presumably all prices would have to be multiples of ten cents, but that cannot be done, because the quarter is not a multiple of ten cents. Our two smallest coins would have a value ratio of 2.5:1. You would be unable to make 30 or 40 cents without having a lot of dimes with you.

 

I doubt we could switch from quarters to 20 cent pieces without a lot of fuss (or a complete change to sizing for our "silver" coins), but I wonder how much a clad half dime would cost to make?

 

If I were allowed to totally redesign our currency from scratch, without regard to being backward compatible, but didn't have permission to lop zeros off the dollar or put us on a gold or silver standard, I'd have a small (but thick) gold colored, reeded edge dollar (with room for larger multi-dollar gold-colored coins of larger size, so that "big" denominations increase in size). Whatever alloy it is would be solid, not some funky plating that tarnishes ugly and rubs off. (The current dollar coin plating is quite an exotic mix.) For less than a dollar, I'd have some sort of solid silver-colored alloy with a smooth edge, maybe cupronickel, maybe not, and the coins would follow a logical size sequence. 50, 20, 10 and _maybe_ 5 cents, but by replacing the quarter with 20 cents, we'd be free to ditch the 5 cents when inflation renders it pointless.

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It'd be interesting if the 5c was changed to steel - since that would mean that vending machines would likely be unable to accept it, since I can't imagine operators changing the mechanism unless there was a change in the quarter.

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I think in about 10-15years the US gov't will finally do some currency reform. At that point they should just reform everything. I think they will drop the cent, maybe even the nickel too. Then drop the $1 bill, force $1 coins into circulation. And the rest of the coins will be made out of mostly steel. A new polymer bill series as well.

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You know that vending machine argument rears its head on Capital Hill for every round of eliminate the cent/nickel, change composition, get rid of the dollar bill == what have you.

 

OK ! When exactly was the last time you used a vending machine and needed a nickel to make it work? All the machines around here are dollar and quarter based. A coke in the machine in most places is now $1.25. Expensive venues it's a straight $2.00. We have no parking meters. The lots that charge are attended and after hours accept only prepaid strips.

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Here, a nickel buys you 2 minutes on the meter :)

 

That may be true in many places. The places I've visited recently with parking meters -- Orlando & Savanah had meters that took debit/credit cards or prepaid cards and in some cases cash. But I don't remember the amounts involved as I parked 1/2 block away where there were no meters. (Cheap! Yes! Healthy from walking - yes!)

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The value of a coin no longer has anything to do with its actual content, so I have no objection to steel, aluminium, what have you. It's not like trying to replace intrinsically valuable silver and gold.

 

I've thought along Steve's lines myself -- completely redesigning our coinage from all directions without giving any regard to the wishes of the coin-op interests. I'd like to see 1c, 2c, 5c all of copper-washed steel or some other very low base-metal value, followed by 10c, 20c and 50c of clad, and $1, $2 and $5 of one of Nordic gold or one of the other gold-toned alloys. The 1c, 10c and $1 are the same size; so are the 2c, 20c and $2 (larger than the 1s) and the 5s are of course larger than the 2s. All are identifiable on sight by size and color, and if the 1-5c pieces are smooth edged, the 10c-50c are reeded, and the $1-$5 have some security edge, they are also identifiable by touch.

 

Only three sizes of blanks are therefore needed, unlike the 6 different sizes in use now. That would, I should think, simplify things for coin-op manufacturers who then only have three sizes to deal with. Steel-cored coins can be separated out magnetically; I would expect that there is a weight differential between clad and Nordic gold coins of the same size, but I don't know if it's enough to be able to sort them mechanically. That's the only sticking point I can think of.

 

Unrelated to that is that I would also like to ban presidential portraits from the coins and return to the traditional symbols of liberty -- or at least prevent presidents from appearing on coins until they have been dead for an entire century. So maybe we could have Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln on the 1, 2 and 5c pieces; the White House, Capitol and SCOTUS buildings on the 10c-50c pieces; and the Capped Bust, Seated and St Gaudens Liberties on the $1-$5.

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I'd still like to see distinct thicknesses.

 

I tend to agree about the portraits. I'd as soon ditch presidents as you would but failing that: Both Roosevelt and Kennedy were put on their respective coins the year after they died. Too soon! Really, history had not really rendered a verdict on either of them; their portraits were put on in surge of emotion after their deaths. Using your century criterion, Roosevelt, I believe will still be considered a great president in 2045 (as much as I don't like anything he did domestically, I believe OTHERS will consider him great), but I doubt anyone will give a rat's hindquarters about Kennedy in 2063. In point of fact, I think Franklin was as good a choice for a coin as just about any president would be, and certainly a better choice than Kennedy.

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I like ikaros' idea---"St Gaudens Liberties on the $1-$5." or on a 1 oz silver bullion coin.

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I'd still like to see distinct thicknesses.

 

I tend to agree about the portraits. I'd as soon ditch presidents as you would but failing that: Both Roosevelt and Kennedy were put on their respective coins the year after they died. Too soon! Really, history had not really rendered a verdict on either of them; their portraits were put on in surge of emotion after their deaths. Using your century criterion, Roosevelt, I believe will still be considered a great president in 2045 (as much as I don't like anything he did domestically, I believe OTHERS will consider him great), but I doubt anyone will give a rat's hindquarters about Kennedy in 2063. In point of fact, I think Franklin was as good a choice for a coin as just about any president would be, and certainly a better choice than Kennedy.

Yeah, the Franklin was always one of my favorite designs, and while in the main I think I probably have a more positive view of the Kennedy administration than you do, I agree: the change was made for the wrong reasons. At least putting Roosevelt on the dime made sense in terms of the March of Dimes, which he founded.

 

I don't think there would be any argument from the public to retaining Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. By the end of this decade, Teddy Roosevelt would become eligible, and I think an appropriate addition -- at least from a numismatic perspective, considering the design renaissance he started. One could make various cases for Adams Sr., Jackson, Monroe... and more importantly, there's really reason to limit the choices to presidents, or politicians.

 

Oh, as a side note regarding redesigning our coinage: I don't have any objection to coins with holes as part of their designs. That saves metal, too.

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Well, you've named about ten presidents and I don't imagine there's be more than about six coins. I suppose some could be put on paper money instead--perhaps a president should appear only once across all paper and coinage? (Why is Grant on the paper money? Apparently he did something important to the history of paper money--which to me is not enough justification. And I'd use the same argument against Theodore Roosevelt--importance to the history of money alone doesn't justify his portrait.)

 

I am not sure if you are claiming that the march of dimes was sufficient reason to put FDR on a coin. If you were, I disagree. But I think it was sufficient reason to choose to put him specifically on the dime once it's decided he rated a coin for other reasons (like, oh, say, getting us through World War II). (I state again that I don't think he deserves it (for other reasons) but acknowledge that most disagree with me, and suspect most still will in 2046. C'est la vie. The point though is to not rush to put people on coins while still emotional about the death of a president.)

 

I'll argue against myself here: it's possible Kennedy will be remembered a very, very long time as being the president who took the initiative to commit us to a moon landing. If we ever actually get ambitious about space travel, that could be remembered as well as Prince Henry the Navigator is today. And I tend to have more favorable opinions about his domestic policies than I do for _either_ Roosevelt, actually.

Holes? Well that would certainly make the artists' jobs more difficult, particularly if you want portraits! I'd end up opposed to them for that reason. A well-off-center hole could solve that problem, but it would be a nightmare for vending machines (much more so than merely changing size, thickness, and composition, which I stated I wouldn't be concerned about), since coins rotate inside them and an off-center hole would cause a wobble. That could be useful--checking for a wobble could be a good slug detector--but if I had to guess it would be so only if you can guarantee the same position for the hole every time a coin is dropped into the machine, and you can't.

 

I'd be less averse to polygons, but that too would likely cause vending machine issues. I know, however, that both on center holes and polygons have been solved. In fact a polygonal shape for either the "high" or "low" denomination series might be an additional way to make the coins distinctive.

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Oh, I'm not even especially wedded to portraits. And I was just tossing out names more for the sake of the ones that could probably be agreed and have a certain historical regard. And yes, I was stating that completely apart from the decision whether to put FDR on a coin, that the dime specifically was the appropriate one once that decision was taken.

 

As a general rule, yes, I'm not concerned with the needs of the vending machine industry. The task of determining national policy on coinage was not delegated to them, and if we as a nation decide that we want to rework our pocket change from the bottom up, each of the machinery providers will rush to be the first on the market with a unit that accepts the new coinage: whoever gets there first will have an effective monopoly until the other companies catch up. All they need is enough lead time to get there before the money changes over.

 

So I'm also therefore not very interested in their needs with regard to the metal content of our coinage. If we need to alter the content of coins because they cost more to make than their face value, then we alter them as a simple matter of fiscal responsibility. We don't continue to suffer negative seignorage because one industry doesn't want to deal with changes.

 

I'm a little averse to going to polygonal coins only because it spoils the size/value symmetry in my system, but I wouldn't be adamantly opposed to the idea. I think I'd rather see the smallest-value coins be holed, and then you can have plain and reeded edges on the middle- and upper-value coins, and that solves the problem of differentiation by touch. In fact, there are some 19th-century examples of 1c and 5c patterns that involve a central hole, on the US Patterns website.

 

Another possibility design-wise is to designate the $5 (or even each of the largest coins, the 5c, 50c and $5) to have their designs changed annually, celebrating some historical event. I'm a firm believer that commemorative coins should be circulating coins. If it's worth commemorating, then it's worth everyone commemorating it.

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<<snip>>

Another possibility design-wise is to designate the $5 (or even each of the largest coins, the 5c, 50c and $5) to have their designs changed annually, celebrating some historical event. I'm a firm believer that commemorative coins should be circulating coins. If it's worth commemorating, then it's worth everyone commemorating it.

 

I totally agree that something worth commemorating on a coin is worth making available to everyone via a circulating coin -- and the half dollar and dollar coins of today are not even close to circulating coins. I like the idea and the designs for the Native American dollar, now if it were only a real circulating coin. WOW! That would be great.

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Overhaul of the coinage,ie 20 cent pc., is never going to happen. It would cost 100s of millions of dollars to change millions of vending machines to take on the changes. Vending machines use magnets to weed out slugs and foreign coins so anything magnetic is out. The best solution would be eliminate the cent and go to a zinc core Nickel.

I would also eliminate the dollar bill.

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My opinion is that the United States government should obey the Constitution. Federal Reserve notes are not legal tender in any of the States. Only silver or gold can be legal tender. Stop making unconstitutional money, return to a sound non-inflationary money, and stop making the lower denomination coins obsolete!

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My opinion is that the United States government should obey the Constitution. Federal Reserve notes are not legal tender in any of the States. Only silver or gold can be legal tender. Stop making unconstitutional money, return to a sound non-inflationary money, and stop making the lower denomination coins obsolete!

 

 

YES GENIUS!!! :yahoo: :yahoo: :yahoo:

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My opinion is that the United States government should obey the Constitution. Federal Reserve notes are not legal tender in any of the States. Only silver or gold can be legal tender. Stop making unconstitutional money, return to a sound non-inflationary money, and stop making the lower denomination coins obsolete!

 

This isn't really an accurate reading of Article I Section 10, inasmuch as the reference is to limitations on the states, not limitations on the federal government, thusly:

 

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

 

So it really has nothing to do with Federal policy on coinage and paper money, it's part of the enumeration of powers withheld from the states, and the meaning here is only that states are not allowed either to make their own money, or to redefine money to suit their own purposes.

 

Fiat money -- money not backed one for one by silver and/or gold -- was held constitutional in the late 1800s as being permissible under the Commerce Clause (and whichever side of Constitutional theory you sit on, that's probably the single most mischievous clause in the whole document) and specifically under another notorious mischief-maker, the Necessary and Proper Clause (art. I sec. 8 cl. 18).

 

I won't even get into the debate as to whether or not that was the right decision to make -- I haven't given the matter that much thought, and it's a level of economics that induces a bad case of MEGO in me.

 

I just wanted to clarify what the Constitution actually says and does not say. And it does not explicitly require currency to be backed one-for-one by gold and silver assets.

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I'm not sure that 10:1 would be adequate to put it back where it used to be. And it's probably not worth the trouble for merely one zero. But it's sure be nice if they'd stop the slow devaluation. People consider it "normal" now and I've even heard some people act like this is an infallible sign of progress! We are somehow "behind" Europe because we still use dollar bills! (Being "behind" with showing the symptoms of a bad trend is not really all that bad a thing!)

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  • 5 months later...

Digging up this thread...

 

1) Per vending machines - shouldn't they really start overhauling them to all take credit cards soon? If we DID have to change alloys, the time it takes to do the research and start producing would give those companies the time to set that all up, right?

2) Per designs - Liberty. Period! --- Well, I do like the little commemorative series we've been doing lately, the 2009 Lincolns and the 2004-5 Jeffersons and whatnot. I like shaking it up a little once in a while, but I hate seeing the government go in over their heads with humongous obligations like the Presidential Dollars (which you can only get new now from the mint!) and National Parks Quarters ("What, they haven't finished the States yet?" - I'm often asked when I dig through the tills for shiny new pieces). Cool ideas, but keep the commitment minimal. Quality is better than quantity.

3) Per gold/silver/copper - Why yes, I'd love to carry these suckers around in my coin purse, but with the trend toward electronic payment systems, not to mention the hassle of constant re-sizing when the prices of gold and silver go up (just look at your favorite type set literature for examples) - especially with the volatile market today, I'm not sure that the use of precious metals would be as stabilizing for the U.S. Dollar as we would like.

4) Per holed coins - Didn't we make patterns like this in the past, and decide against it for operational/logistical reasons? Of course the technology has improved, but I just had been reading a patterns book recently and thought I'd bring it up. Totally on board if holed pieces work fine though!

5) Per losing the cent - How long is the life of a cent? If we just up and stopped making them today, we wouldn't have to change all prices to .05 right away, would we? And by the time came to discuss halting production of the nickel, I would expect that an exponentially greater percentage of people would be using electronic payment anyway? As long as banks keep those pieces in the vault at need, I would think the transition would be a lot cleaner - and subtler - than many people are worried about. Or we could just take example from the half cent...

6) Per denomination overhaul - while it would definitely be cool for me as a collector, I don't think it would be worth the trouble when we're trending toward electronic transactions anyway.

 

7) A new thought - Supply and demand: If the Mint reduced the amount of every cent, nickel, dime, and quarter next year by, for instance, 25%, then by more and more, would people start valuing coin more and raise the intrinsic value of the dollar (and cent, nickel, dime, quarter)? I mean, that's what inflation is, right? And wouldn't that help with the Mint/government's financial woes? You would think that would be the logical next step, as the need for hard cash has drastically declined. Under-demanded, over-supplied.

 

I wonder if lines 3 and 7 could be related...

Edited by TreasureGirl
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Here, the steel $1 and $2 came out earlier this year, with vending machine groups given a year's notice and some test pieces, but still we ended up having machines that weren't ready.

 

As for #7 - are you referring to weight, or mintage?

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