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50 years of clad minus 1

I received a 1967 dime in change while on weekend shopping errands. The 47-year old coin got me thinking about how long I have been using clad coins.

Like all of us who were around at the beginning of this kind of American coinage, it has imprinted on my mind many memories.

When the Coinage Act of 1965 was signed into law in July of that year, it was big news for coin collectors.

I heard about it from the regular news media. I was not yet a subscriber to Numismatic News or any other coin periodical.

Naturally, I was anxious to see examples of the new coins. My mother was anxious the same month for another reason.

The 101st Airborne Division had landed in South Vietnam. The Vietnam War was being rapidly escalated. I kept the newspaper with that story and its banner headline on the front page.

My mother was concerned whether it would escalate on a scale like World War II, which was still in her memory, and then subject my father and others under 40 years of age to military service though he had served his draftee tour of the Army  in 1954-1956.

My mother’s anxiety was soon allayed, and eventually so was mine.

When you are a kid, time moves slowly.

It was not until the late autumn that I saw my first clad coin, a 1965-dated quarter.

My father had mentioned at supper that he thought he had encountered one of the new coins in change that day. When the meal was over, I raced to my parents’ bedroom, went to the change dish and beheld the first clad quarter I could hold in my hand.

It was quite a moment. In a way it has been all down hill from there. The reputation of clad coins was not high among collectors.

By the time my 1967 dime was struck, it was the silver coins that commanded my attention. They were leaving circulation and my perception of their increasing scarcity guided my hobby activities.

The 1967 dime I have just received is not worth keeping, but the fact that it stirred up such memories makes it a valuable addition to my life.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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