coinfodder's Blog

22 Jun 2020

Horrid Coinage Fails Part 4- The Twenty Cent Piece

Coins | coinfodder

Back to the coinage fails before we continue along with our WWII series.
The Twenty Cent Piece was conceived by the newly elected senator from Nevada, John P. Jones. He was a Republican with ties to the silver miners that dotted Nevada. He believed the Twenty center would help to alleviate the current change shortage in the west. Oh, and yes, he wanted to give the silver miners in Nevada someone and some coin to sell to, since the dollar (not trade) had not been made since 1873. He would be creating a win-win- A profit for the miners and more change for the West. It was anticipated to be a success.

By eagerly passing the bill, they neglected that a twenty center had been proposed as early as 1791. It constantly failed to pass Congress, as the Spanish reale had a twenty five cent coin- the Two Bit, that was always regarded as twenty cents. By the time the Reale was phased out in America, the quarter had taken of in popularity. No one cared for a twenty center after that, because they already had the quarter. Nevertheless, the bill passed and was signed by President Grant on March 3rd, 1875. Production began soon after, with William Barber (Barber the elder) creating a nice design for the coin.

What happened is a outward fail. Just like the SBA dollar, many confused the size with the quarter. Also, to make matters worse, the design looked like the Liberty Seated Design created by Christian Gobrecht, making folks confuse it with the quarter.

After the coin came to Earth, Congress drastically cut mintage until 1878, with comprised of only proofs for the few collectors that were out at the time. In the mintage came the ultra-rare 1876-CC, minting 10,000 but melting all but a dozen, creating one of the most sought after coins.
The coin lasted from 1875-1878, creating the shortest life for a single denomination. Even the Two cent piece, which usefulness was mitigated by the nickel-five cent and the three cent, lasted longer than that, as proofs continued to be made despite becoming pretty much useless.
That is horrid coinage fails part 4. Suggest more coinage fails in the comments below. Thanks again!



Level 5

Haha, love this coin. I have yet to hold one, but I hope to one day. Cheers, NM


Level 5

You mention the rarity of the 1876-CC. The 1875-CC you have pictured while not rare per se may be considered a condition rarity with high collector demand and as such is worth a pretty penny. I have the Philadelphia 1876 twenty-cent piece graded XF-40 in my typeset. I find this coin fascinating for many of the reasons you list. I agree with Moke's sentiment, "Failed yes but horrid, nope."


Level 3

I don't really like American coins, I'm more of a world war 2 and one from every country coin collector.


Level 4

It is interesting too that in an effort to make this coin different than a quarter for the public it has a plain edge in lieu of a reeded edge. This is highly unusual as all coins of intrinsic value have had a reeded or lettered edge to avoid trimming. Additionally the eagle faces right in lieu of left as it appears on the quarter, luckily they moved the olive and arrows too. Lastly the liberty on the shield is raised rather than incuse as it appears on the other seated liberty denominations. Not that I suspect anyone would take time to notice the latter two difference when pulling out their change. Of course this begs the question why are any of our coins reeded as with the exception of the cent and nickle none really have a intrinsic value.

I love the coin and design... W. Barber did a great job with it... wish I could afford one... one day maybe... Anyhow, if your looking into failed denominations, you might consider doing one on the three-cent piece (aka, silver trime) which was minted for ease in the postal system (this is also why a three dollar coin was minted) because the stamps then cost 3 cents. Or you could do on the two-cent piece.

I. R. Bama

Level 5

Thanks for the information, interesting background story. I like my odd denomination coins.....


Level 4

I have always enjoyed looking at them. Definitely a collector’s piece now.


Level 7

I wished I owned one . Not to many people do in that condition. Thanks


Level 5

Beautiful coin in my opinion, but it wasn't really needed for commerce. I don't own any myself. But maybe I should look around for one, just to have a type coin. Very interesting information. I never really knew much about the 20 cent coin.

It's Mokie

Level 6

It has an attractive eagle on the reverse. I know it was a failed coin but it is definitely a great collector coin today and an absolutely essential part of any type collection. Failed yes but Horrid, nope.


Level 6

I like it. I understand the reasons no one wanted it but when did the Congress and mint ever listen to the people and the collector? Thanks.

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