user_30405's Blog

02 Jun 2022

Debasement of U.S. Coinage!

Young Numismatists Exchange | user_30405

I wrote this piece for a school newspaper, as a historically inspired article.

Debasement of U.S. coinage!

Revolutionary new “small” cent introduced

A new cent was released last week, on May 25, 1857. The coin is worth much less than its metal value, and, if accepted, would change the whole dynamic of the economy and investment strategies.

The new “small” cent is smaller than the half cent. In an official mint release the public is encouraged to exchange their large cents, half cents, Spanish silver, and other select foreign coins for the new cents at the Philadelphia Mint Building. More than a thousand people have lined up daily since May 25 to get the new coins. “Nicks,” so-called because they look very similar to a nickel coin, are still not legal-tender like their older counterparts. Rather, the public is trusting that banks, merchants, and their neighbors will accept the coin at a fair value, even though the old, larger cents are normally accepted at a discounted value. Nevertheless, people have been exchanging their foreign coins because of the potentially profitable exchange rate at the mint and treasury.

Critics claim that this exchange rate has the potential to drive the Treasury to the brink of bankruptcy and cripple the American economy. Despite the fact they are trading at a premium right now, these large and half cents may eventually not be accepted for anything more than bullion value. This will hurt the buying power of all the currency as the new coins could be accepted as change for purchases, but could be spent at less than face value.

Mr. Butler of Virginia says, “This will slow the entire economy, as it will allow the merchants to get richer off of exchange rates and make the buyer poorer, undermining one of the principles on which United States coins are struck.” Others assert that this advantage will encourage the circulation of easily counterfeited paper certificates. But if the coin is accepted, it could encourage the U.S. government to drop gold and silver coinage from the monetary system and put the U.S. economy on a disadvantageous, fiat-based monetary system.

Many believe that the slow process towards the debasement of United States coinage started a few months ago, when Congress passed the Act of February 21, 1857. This “horrendous” act will stop the production of large and half cents later this year and substituting them with a “small cent.” The new coin will depict a flying eagle on the obverse with the date at 6 o’clock and “United States of America” banner flying over the majestic eagle. The reverse depicts the denomination “One Cent” surrounded by a wreath of some sort, variations include corn, wheat, cotton and tobacco. The coin was designed and engraved by James Barton Longacre and features a diameter of 19 millimeters and a plain edge. All the new coins will be minted in Philadelphia this year and will weigh 4.67 grams with a brand-new, heavily lobbied composition of 88% copper and 12% nickel, giving it a “white” look.

Abraham Lincoln, an entrepreneurial young lawyer, said, “I don’t expect the new cent to last long, but I know that there will be huge interest in Illinois for the coins so I traded for $10 worth and will sell them as soon as I reach home.” Speaking of selling these coins, last year, 1856, about two thousand 1856 dated proof strikes of the new coins were made for politicians and are currently selling for about a dollar according to part-time, rare coin dealer Bob Piazza. Mr. Lawrence says, “After the excitement ends, thousands will be rushing to spend their useless cents before the public realizes the threat this coin is to the American economy”.

PLEASE NOTE: The “Flying Eagle cent” was heartily received and replaced by the Indian Head cent in 1859 because of technical difficulties in striking the coins. During the Civil War, the composition was changed to bronze because of the circulation of “war tokens” of the same composition. The acceptance of the new cent led to the two and three cent pieces, as well as the nickel replacing the half dime. All names and quotes are fictitious, but they do represent some of the feelings of the public during this period.



Level 4

Great blog! I really enjoyed reading it!


Level 6

Great writing! I enjoyed it very much! ; )


Level 6

Nice paper, thanks for sharing

It's Mokie

Level 6

Great Job, I bet you received an A+ . Thanks for sharing.


Level 6

Well done. Another fun read.


Level 7

Very enjoyable. It kept my interest. I want to thank you very much for writing real blogs. Good information. You hit a home run!

AC coin$

Level 6

Gret history .

Long Beard

Level 5

Very well researched. The use of fictitious names and quotes was warranted based on this subject and historical research. Although short, you exhibits great writing style.

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