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Majority of 1943 steel cents escaped melt

How did the Mint dispose of the 1,093,838,670 steel 1943 cents when they were removed from circulation?

The Mint began the withdrawal in 1945, and in 20 years retrieved 163 million, or about 14.9 percent of the steel cents in circulation. Apparently they were turned over to private smelters to be melted down. Some 900 million are still out there.

I have found several coins in circulation that appear to be proofs. Does the Mint put unsold proof coins in circulation?

Unsold proof coins are destroyed by melting. Children of collectors have been known to need pocket change, raid a parent’s collection and spend the coins acquired. Some dealers also find it easier from time to time to simply spend unneeded pieces from broken up sets.


Isn’t there an argument stating that aluminum coins are medically dangerous?

It took awhile, but I found the item you refer to. At the 1974 hearings on an aluminum cent before the House Banking Committee, Dr. Richard E. Reichelderfer of Johns Hopkins University testified that aluminum coins are more difficult to detect with X-rays, and thus could cause medical problems if swallowed.


Are there any early examples of world coins that had mintage figures in the billions?

One example from close to home is the Mexico City Mint. It struck more than 1.5 billion 8 reales from 1580 to 1967.


How detailed are Mint records of gold coins melted?

Since 1914 they are detailed, but prior to that only the bulk totals of all gold coins were recorded. It doesn’t help even for coins minted after that, because the denomination breakdowns still included older coins. From a numismatic standpoint it would have been ideal if they had kept a record of each date and mint melted, but they didn’t.

Were U.S. gold coins always legal tender at face value?

This is something of a trick question, as the answer is that they were not. Full weight gold coins were legal tender at full face value, including coins that had not exceeded the allowable wear for the number of years they had been in circulation. However, if a coin was worn to the point of weighing less than the allowable, then it was accounted to be legal tender only “in proportion to their actual weight.

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