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Showing posts with the label Joseph Wharton

Half Dimes and Nickels: My 3¢ Worth

One peculiar aspect of American and Canadian coinage is the fact that the dime is smaller than the nickel, even though it’s worth twice as much. Why would these countries design a currency system like this? The fact is: they didn’t. The United States first determined the size and denomination of American coins when it passed the Coinage Act of 1792. This established ten different denominations of US coins, made of three different kinds of metals: copper (½¢, 1¢); silver (5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢, $1); and gold ($2.50, $5, $10). The smaller coins made of each metal were the lower denominations, with the values of the coins increasing with their sizes. This made sense, since it cost more money to mint a larger coin, so of course the higher denominations would be worth more. With three exceptions, the sizes of US coins have changed since 1792. The United States stopped making half cents in 1857, and it stopped making gold coins in 1933. The original 1¢ coin was much larger until 1857,