From the Aug. 9 Numismatic News E-Newsletter:
The Treasury has asked Congress for the power to alter the composition of American coinage. Should that power be granted?
Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor Dave Harper.
Yes, I believe that the Congress needs to give the Mint the ?authority? to alter the metals in the coins if it will serve to stabilize the economy. How else could we (as a hobby) claim to be ?advising? our representatives on coinage matters? Perhaps, as in some other countries, the Mint could produce a limited number of precious metal editions of our coins for collectors, like the yearly ?silver proof sets?.
Charles K. Miller
Technically no. Congress only has the right to change monetary coins and bills.
However it is not a financially viable thing to make coins where the metals cost more than the face value of the coin. History has shown us that this cannot continue, i.e. silver coinage. Congress should give the power to the Treasury to change coinage when required to keep the cost of minting below the face value of the coins.
Joseph M. Morgado Jr.
No, only Congress should have the power to change composition of U.S. coins.
Green Pond, Ala.
Yes, I think Congress should give the Treasury the authority to change the metal content of our coinage. However, it is a shame how the government (Congress) has so debased our money through inflation that so much of our coinage will begin looking like third world country coinage.
It seems like a logical and cost saving answer to the cent-nickel situation. But only on the surface. This would amount to a transfer of powers from the representatives of millions of Americans to a single identity. When you think of all the negative comments about the Mints activity of late you only have to use your imagination to see the effect this would have on the coin collecting community and coin related industry economy.
Mc Kees Rocks, Pa.
I think the composition of coins should be changed, also eliminate the penny, nickel, dime and half dollar. Replace the penny, nickel and dine, with a two cent and eight cent coin or a three and seven cent coin, to keep a 10-cent total. Keep the quarter, eliminate the half dollar. I believe the Sacagawea dollar, a nice collector item, is on its way out, the presidential dollar has taken its place. Congress should give power to the Treasure to alter the composition.
I would not mind if the treasury gets the authority to change the content of our coinage make-up, just so long as they use a durable metal.
One of my hobbies is metal detecting and I will tell you that the zinc Lincoln cents do not last long in the ground. I would not like to see a repeat with our other circulating coins. When I find cents that have been buried the 1982 and prior coins fare much better then the 1982 and newer zinc versions.
Even the modern clad coins turn black after just a short time in the ground. The silver coins that I have found most times look no worse for wear then the day they were lost.
I really think that something needs to be done with our economy and currency value so that our coins are not worth less then the metal in them.
No, our coins should not be changed every time costs change. The US Mint is the only segment of our government that is making a profit. They currently ?price gouge? every coin they mint for the US. I follow the coin prices of circulating coins, costs, service life, materials and profits; also the fact that the quality of nickels and cents continues to deteriorate as the US mint and the US congress make changes to the percentage and combination of allows used.
Congress should be the ONLY authority to determine the composition of American coinage. If the Treasury spends more to manufacture cents and nickels than their face value, I?m sure they more than make up the difference in the profits they make on the other coins they produce. As in all departments and levels of government, not all operations are ?profit centers.?
Treasury makes a high seigniorage on all other coins, they shouldn?t change the composition of the cent or nickel.
I?ve been a coin collector since 1999. My response to the question about whether the power be granted to alter the composition of current U.S. coins is ?yes?. One, the government can do whatever it needs to keep things in order. Two, not a single U.S. coin has had a real significant value since the cancelation of having silver content in U.S. coins in 1965 (except some Kennedy halves). Maybe some collectors will be unhappy but since I am not a collector of current U.S. coins because of there unartisticness compared to previous older coins, I can?t quite say that I care if they change the composition.
Sure, as long as they don?t screw up by making our coins look cheap like the Presidential tokens.
I guess the only coins that would be changed would be the nickel, and cent. It might be a good idea to swap the nickel and dime in size, and change the new dime to clad. Whatever is done to the cent, I think it should stay copper plated, but wait until after the new Lincoln designs come out to make a change. I hope to be able to get a pure copper 2009- S V.D.B. before the Mint screws that up like they screw everything up!
I firmly believe that the composition of our pennies and nickels should not change at this time. I also believe that Congress should not confer the power to the treasury in this matter.
M. Jerome Edwards
No, Congress should have the final say. I feel the cent should be stopped to save money.
Rodney B. Stryker
Sr. Florence, Ore.
No. The Treasury should not be given carte blanche to choose the new composition of the nickel and cent. Lest we forget the United States is still a democracy. In order to avoid even a trace of scandal and nincompoopooree Congress should have the final vote on the materials to be because, as we know, it is they that have the best interests of the vending industry, I mean the people, at heart.
San Gabriel, Calif.
I do not think the process to alter the composition we use to mint our coins is needed. I am not against change, but the way we have our checks and balances for this process should not be changed every time a different Treasury director thinks he has better way.
This is in response to your question concerning the metallurgy of coins and whether this should be an Act of Congress. It is a touchy area since U.S. coins and currency are, to an extent, a world currency. Historically, U.S. currency and coinage has been accepted throughout the world due to the consistency of appearance and composition in trade.
As early as 1963, when the dollar was changed there was concern over acceptance due to the common belief that when currency changed its look on the world market and tourist trade, not just investors, it caused a de-facto devaluation of the dollar. Due to modern technology, this was still an issue in the late 1990s as counterfeiting required design changes, and still sees U.S. Currency change almost yea rly now for larger denominations.
What does this have to do with coinage? In my humble opinion, it is simple. Coinage is not just minor denominations or business strikes. Commemoratives and bullion may also fall in this category. The content of bullion in particular must not be manipulated based on a short-term market trend. Silver, gold and platinum coinage must maintain its integrity for the collector and the investor alike. It could be devastating to change these items on a ?whim.?
In my opinion, minor coinage is still an issue, albeit of lesser consequences. The world market would view with uncertainty content changes on a regular basis of less than five years. Of course, collectors would love changes mid-year, for this could create rarities.
Although not part of the question, the cent and later the five-cent coins should never be completely eliminated. Without a doubt, this would result from a 4% to 9% inflationary factor on purchases under one dollar.
Should the Treasury be empowered with the ability to change content? If it is with certain reservation, especially the exclusion of any precious metal coins, I would give a resounding YES! This is after all a sound business decision. As taxpayers, we all favor sound decisions in government.
Should the Treasury have carte blanche in all composition at a whim? I give a resounding NO! It would be wise to empower the Treasury with this decision-making process only with minor business strike coinage. To continue with production of a commodity worthy of those so inclined to melt the coins for their ?guaranteed? metal content is foolhardy. A change is necessary, though such a change must be responsible.