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Hawaii cents ‘sacrificed’ to volcano

Do you know the legend that surrounds the disappearance of the 1847 Hawaii cents?


The reverse design of the 1847 cent includes a wreath of ohelo leaves and berries. This is a plant that grows on the slopes of Kilauea volcano. The connection was enough to make the coins popular as a substitute sacrifice to Pele, the goddess of fire who was believed to live in the volcano. As a result, large quantities of the cents were thrown into the volcano. Supposedly this is the reason for their scarcity.

Did the same Robert Patterson who defeated the first proposal for the two-cent piece as director of the Mint later make the suggestion that it be adopted?

Same name, different generation. Robert Patterson, director of the Mint, strenuously opposed a Senate bill for the coin in 1806. Robert M. Patterson, his son, proposed the successful bill that was passed and made into law Dec. 12, 1836. The coin was to be 90 percent copper, 10 percent silver, but for unknown reasons it was never produced for circulation.

Was President Franklin D. Roosevelt a coin collector?

Roosevelt was much better known as a stamp collector, but he did collect coins as well. His collection was sold several years after his death.

When was the screw press for coining invented?

One source points to the Florentine artist Bramante who used a screw press in 1508 to strike medals. In 1538 Benvenuto Cellini, also in Italy, used the same principle to strike coins.

Which president also served as Mint director?

This is something of a trick question. Elias Boudinot, third director of the U.S. Mint, had previously served as president of the Confederation that preceded the United States in 1783.

Wasn’t Paul Volcker one of the proponents of doing away with the cent?

The former chairman of the Federal Reserve System was undersecretary of the Treasury in the 1970s. Volcker was in fact one of the leaders in the effort to get production of the cent halted.

Didn’t Abraham Lincoln have something to say on the topic of return postage, which seems to be one of your pet peeves?

Indeed! The story is told that a woman autograph collector wrote to President Lincoln for a “sentiment.” In reply she got a letter that read, “Dear Madam: When you ask of a stranger that which is of use only to yourself, always enclose a stamp. There’s your sentiment, and here’s your autograph. – A. Lincoln.”

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This article was originally printed in Numismatic News Express. >> Subscribe today

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