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Early gold shortage attributed to 1834 melt


Wasn’t there a major melt of gold coins in 1834?

 It’s believed that this is the primary cause for the scarcity of many earlier dated issues. The Coinage Act of 1834 set new weight and fineness standards and made each $100 in face value of the old coins worth $106.60. Much of the inflated mintage of half eagles in 1834 and the next several years can be traced to old coins sent in by banks and melted down for the new issues.

How much silver did the Mint recover after 1964 from coins?

As of 1970 when the primary phase ended, the Mint recovered 212.3 million ounces from 563,882,690 quarters and 1,552,903,056 dimes. That sounds like a lot until you note that Denver struck 1.357 billion dimes in 1964 plus another 933 million at Philadelphia, so the Mint didn’t even recover the last year of production. Quarter recovery was almost exactly the 1964 Philadelphia mintage of 564,341,247.

Somewhere I read that tons of silver coins were melted down during World War II and the silver was used in defense plants. What possible use would they have had for coin silver?

The U.S. Treasury loaned 16,300 tons of silver in 1942 to the Defense Plant Corporation. The silver was used to alleviate a critical shortage of copper, needed for war materials. In many cases it was cast into heavy bars known as “bus bars,” used to connect heavy electrical equipment.


Were any of the 1883 “No Cents” nickels melted by the Mint?

An unsubstantiated source said that “the greater portion” was never issued, implying they were melted. However, this source used a mintage of 2 million. The actual mintage was 5.4 million. This could mean that 3.4 million were never issued, but this is unsubstantiated.


A couple of times I’ve been told that the copper-plated zinc cents can be dangerous if swallowed. Is this true or just a myth?

The zinc core does pose a potential medical problem, but I have yet to hear of a serious illness from ingesting a zinc coin – at least as far as humans are concerned. There have been a number of reports of dogs becoming sick from swallowing a zinc coin. These reports indicate that stomach acids would cause problems if a human were to swallow a zinc cent.


Address questions to Coin Clinic, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Because of space limitations, we are unable to publish all questions. Include a loose 42-cent stamp for reply. Write first for specific mailing instructions before submitting numismatic material. We cannot accept unsolicited items. E-mail inquiries should be sent to Answerman2@aol.com.

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