U.S. retail investors are losing their appetite for physical gold as buoyant stock markets offer tempting alternatives, sending sales of newly minted coins to their lowest in a decade.
More and more coins are also being sold back onto the market, further eroding demand for newly minted products.
Even today, with all the technology of the modern world, the minting process is not perfect. Frequently, a mint will commit errors in the minting process. These are referred to as “mint-made errors.”
Note that in numismatics, the term “variety” typically refers to types of coins with both intended and unintended characteristics. On the other hand, an error is almost always and unintended consequence of a minting process. There are three basic categories of mint-made errors: Strike errors, hub-and-die errors, and planchet preparation errors.
In the 1780s, the economy of the nascent United States suffered from a lack of circulating coinage. As the US Mint had not yet been established, some states contracted with private enterprises to produce copper coinage. Ephraim Brasher, a skilled gold, and silversmith in New York City petitioned the State of New York in 1787 with a proposal to produce copper coins for that state. His proposal was rejected, but soon after Brasher produced a handful of pattern coins in gold. It is still unclear if they were truly pattern coins for the proposed copper coinage or simply privately-minted gold coins. Either way, “Brasher’s Doubloons” have become some of the rarest and sought-after coins in American history.
The U.S. economy is massive on a global scale, and much of the country’s economic capabilities can be traced back to the innovation, knowledge, and productivity that tends to be clustered in urban areas.
The fact is that 80% of Americans live in cities – and the 10 largest metro areas alone combine for a whopping 34% of the country’s total GDP.
It may have taken over a century, but Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ vision for the $20 Double Eagle coin became reality in 2009.
The story of the 2009 Ultra High Relief Gold Coin actually began back in 1907, when President Theodore Roosevelt examined the Smithsonian Institution’s collection of Greek and Roman coins. Roosevelt was impressed by how the ancient coins were struck in extremely high relief. The coins’ design elemetals were boldly raised, which imparted a stunning visual effect. Roosevelt believed that America’s coinage was quite plain and uninteresting by comparison.
Though the early United States was theoretically on a bimetallic standard – with both gold and silver legal tender – the actual use of gold and silver coinage fluctuated with the prices of those metals. The California Gold Rush of the late 1840s brought a great deal of gold onto the market. This increased the price of silver relative to gold, and much American silver coinage was exported or melted during this period.
For most of its history, from 1909 to 1982, the Lincoln cent was made of bronze (an alloy of about 95% copper and 5% zinc). However, there is one exception: in 1943, pennies were instead produced using steel.
During World War II, demand for copper, tin, and other metals increased tremendously. Copper, in particular, was vital for the production of shell casings and other military equipment. One simple way for the US government to conserve metal was to modify the production of circulating coinage. Even though pennies contained only a small amount of tin, the removal of this metal from the alloy in January 1942 was expected to save over 100,000 pounds of that metal. In October 1942, the composition of the nickel was also modified to reduce its copper content.
The Chinese zodiac scheme (also known as the lunar scheme) assigns an animal to each year in a rotating 12-year cycle. It is an important aspect of Asian culture and is widely recognized in China, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Burma, and the Philippines. In celebration of this cultural institution, various world mints have issued lunar-themed coins. Each piece display tigers, rabbits, dragons, snakes, horses, goats, monkeys, roosters, dogs, pigs, rats, and oxen to commemorate each year in the Chinese zodiac.
With the discovery of gold in California in the late 1840s, a huge amount of newly-produced gold was converted into coinage. However, with no US Mint facility west of the Mississippi, and no transcontinental railroad links yet constructed, the process of transporting all of this gold across the country was highly inefficient. In lieu of adequate circulating coinage, the boomtown of San Francisco used gold dust for commerce. Once California became a state in 1850, Congress was petitioned. In 1852, President Millard Fillmore approved a plan for a new mint facility in San Francisco, which opened in 1854. The new San Francisco Mint worked at full tilt, converting more than $4 million worth of gold into coin by the end of 1854 alone.
There is currently some controversy over whether the lowest denomination US coin – the penny – should be eliminated from circulation. Has the penny become obsolete
From the perspective of the US Mint, the most basic argument for eliminating the penny is its cost. It now costs about 1.5 cents to produce a one-cent coin. The penny’s composition was changed from a bronze (95% copper) to mostly zinc in 1983 due to inflation and rising material prices. Nickels suffer from the same problem – they cost more than 9 cents to produce! A 2007 regulation prohibits the melting of US pennies and nickels; while some scrapping of pennies probably does occur, the illegality of the process does preclude a more widespread level of hoarding for this purpose.