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This Week’s Letters (10/7/08)

Q. Should a copper-nickel coin the size of the old half-dime replace the nickel in the future? Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor Dave Harper.

Dave, with the economic problems in this country and in the world generally as they presently are, it would be a postive change to reduce the size of the 5-cent coin to that of our half dimes of the past.  If doing so is a conservative move, I am all for it. One of the big problems is our American way of waste things, then throw them away. If we continue on with that as one of our lifestyle premises, then we have to conserve in other ways. If downsizing is feasable, which it certainly is in the case of a 5-cent value coin, let’s go for it! 

Ron Feuer
Charlotte, N.C.

Yes, as long as the denomination 5 cents appears on the coin’s reverse, so just in case those who cannot read well would still see it as “5 cents.” Perhaps the new coin could be as thin as the old half dime, but the same size of a current nickel, thus one-half its weight. Less confusion for all. This solution would be better than making a smaller coin that people can lose, and also would not mix up blind persons with a new size, but they could “feel” the thinness of the new nickel and not get confused knowing it was a nickel still. Or simply make the current nickel half the thickness it is now and call it a half dime 5 cents.    

Neil Osina
Glendora, Calif.

If the half dime is going to be the same size as the dime,  I think it is a bad idea.They should work on getting rid of the paper dollar, and get the $1 coins in circulation.  It seems that I get at least one $1 bill that should have been taken out of circulation all too often.

Tim Coltrin
Glendale Heights, Ill.

In answer to will the half dime replace the nickel, my answer is no.   Our  population is now very used to using the 5-cent nickel in its change; a half dime will only confuse the user.  We are having enough trouble with the $1 coin replacing the $1 currency note, which may never happen.  Don’t see too many $1 coins in circulation starting with the first $1 coin issue in the 1970s.

Edward J. Moschetti
Pittsburgh, Pa.

Yes, this is an excellent idea. A lighter coin not subject to high priced metal would reduce Mint overhead and save energy in shipment. In WWII it was experimented with, designs created, possible patterns made, but the revised metal content in 1942 saved the “nickel” for the U.S.A. It is possible both could circulate simultaneously as they did in the post Civil War period. The nickel still has its fans, and of course there is the problem for acceptance by coin operated mechanisms that would only accept the nickel.

Henry T. Hettger
Arlington, Va.

Great idea! It would seem to significantly reduce the cost of production versus the current nickel.  As a coin collector, of course I’d like a chance to expand my U.S. Type collection. I currently have some nice old half dimes with some types still needed like an 1837 capped bust to go with my 1837 no-star Seated Liberty and an 1859 hollow star variety which had design input from Robert Ball Hughes.
The only downside would seem to be the impact on vending machines.  Oh, and those Jefferson nickel collectors might have an issue or two.

Robert H. Ball, Jr.
Detroit, Mich.

Yes, I think it may even be a great idea to show off part of the old half dime on the new one to commemorate the old
 
Randy Belles
Everett, Wash.

I would like to see a coin called the half dime. It might fool some people who are unwise to to the nickel. I am approaching 64 years old and am old enough to have seen real half disme, dimes up close and photos of them. Especially from the Yeoman’s Red Books that I used to buy every year. My first coins were from pocket change from my Father in 1952, Daddy was an electrician for Local Union #6 in San Francisco, Ca. The company he worked for installed fire alarm systems. Mostly commercial buildings used the Pacific Fire Extinguisher Co’s sprinkler alarms and heat detectors. in their warehouses.
 Daddy was working in Reno, Nevada, installing the whole fire alarm system in Harolds’s Club gaming Casino. Virginia Street is the main street through Reno, or it was, until roads got built all over the place.
My first pocket change contained an Indian head penny, a V nickel, a mercury dime, and 3 wheat pennies. I felt rich.

Dianne Hardin
Burlingame, Ca.

What useful purpose would a half dime serve? I think it is a bad idea!

James W. Miller
Portsmouth, NH

No.  People won’t use a dollar coin, or even a half dollar.  The average consumer does not want to use a brand new coin, and a half dime would be too new for the average person. 

Ginger Rapsus
Chicago, IL

If we Americans desire to continue producing a 5 cent coin, then the
half-dime size would be appropriate, at least for about two decades.
However, there would be the added cost of altering coin machines to accept
this tiny coin in lieu of the present nickel.

If we decide to eliminate the 5 cent coin entirely, then we will have the
problem of making change between quarters and dimes.  We would have to
either eliminate the quarter entirely or replace it with a 20 cent coin.  In
my opinion, best would be to elimiate the quarter, reinstall the half
dollar, but at the same size as the present quarter.

What about all the old quarters?  They could be revalued as half dollars, a
nice little boon for the general public.

Steve Album
Santa Rosa, Calif.

Are the stores and casino’s going to get a tax credit for recalibrating their gum machines and slot machines to accept the half-dimes? They will just pass on the increased costs to the consumers. Our lawmakers need to start making decisions based on cost savings to the American public.
 
S. Boyer
Huber Hts, Ohio

The US Mint is pretty much forced into the position of having to produce a five cent coin with much less metal content.  I don’t like the idea of a coin as small as a half dime in circulation, but I cannot think of a more practical alternative.
 
Pat Heller
Lansing, Mich.

A small copper-nickel half dime would not be accepted by the public.  They should continue to use the current alloy until the price rises again.
 
Dennis Colby
Villa Park, I
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