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War real reason for gap in cent production

Was the fire at the Philadelphia Mint the cause of the 1815 gap in cent production?

The real cause was a serious shortage of copper. The fire actually wasn’t until January 1816, and it only damaged part of the rolling mill operation. The War of 1812 caused the shortage of copper. When cent production was suspended in 1815, it was the only year they haven’t been coined since 1793. This gap led to numerous fantasy counterfeits dated 1815.

I thought the U.S. Mint destroyed dies as soon as they were outdated or worn out. The Manila Mint was still using 1929 dated dies to strike coins in 1936.

A reader makes this rather startling claim, telling us that visitors to the Manila Mint in 1936 were allowed to strike and then buy 1929-M 20-centavo coins. It is one of the very rare instances of any world mint allowing visitors to strike a circulating coin. U.S. coinage dies are normally destroyed by or at the end of the year of production.

How did they get around the law that prohibited striking coins anywhere except at Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco? I’m thinking specifically of West Point.

West Point fell under the control of the New York Assay Office, which was singled out specifically in the law as being prohibited from striking any coins. Congress changed one part of the law in 1974 to permit any facility to strike coins but left the prohibition on New York in another part of the law. To get around this provision without having to go back to Congress for still another change, the Mint transferred control of West Point from the New York Assay Office to the Philadelphia Mint. Later West Point was designated as an official mint.

Why was there such a long delay in resuming proof coin production after World War II?

One reason that probably has not received much publicity was that the Philadelphia Mint was tied up for several years after the war striking the millions of medals that had been authorized for veterans of the war. On average, each man or woman who had served in the armed forces was entitled to three medals. The Mint director, Mrs. Nellie Tayloe Ross, officially blamed the war medal production for the delay in a letter written in early 1948, but it wasn’t until 1950 that proof production was resumed.

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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