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I’m not in favor of zombie issues

Have you noticed that when someone in Washington, D.C., suggests doing away with a current denomination, a promise goes with it that they will continue to be made for collectors?


If you are going to have $1 bills taken away from you, will it matter at all to know that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing will still print a few and sell them for many multiples of face value?

How about the U.S. cent? Those who advocate its elimination suggest it could go on and on in collector sets?

Does that make a difference to you?

It doesn’t to me.

Imagine what the Mint product list would look like today if the end of the useful life of each coin never really occurred for collectors.

Instead of half cents ceasing in 1857, the Mint would have struck them every year solely for collectors.

The two cent piece, silver three-cent piece and silver half dime would have gone on and on from 1873.

The nickel three cent piece would extend year by year only for collectors from 1889.

The 20-cent piece would have had four actual years of issue 1875-1878 and 140 more just for collectors even though collectors were not thrilled with it in the first place.

Instead of the mysterious Trade dollar issues that occurred after striking for general use ceased in 1878, we would have another 140 years of them.

Gold $1s and $3s would extend from 1889. Well, Franklin D. Roosevelt would have killed them with his 1933 gold recall order, so life after termination of a useful gold series would not have come to the present day.

But you get my point.

Legislation killing various denominations should be evaluated on its merits. It is not a gift for collectors to think old series would go on and on.

When you were active in circulation finds, would you have been inspired to buy say in 1963 a proof set with examples of half cents, two cents, three cents (two different) half dime, 20 cents and Trade dollar? Most would have had a hard enough time coming up with the $2.10 for the proof set that contained coins that were actually being used.

What would a proof set have cost with another seven coins in it with an additional face value of $1.335?

In recent years coin collectors have not shown much diligence even in finishing sets with known end points.

The gold First Spouse coins of 2007-2016 saw mintages fall by 90 percent.

Presidential dollars rapidly lost most favorable collector response after the first few were issued.

America the Beautiful quarters are pale shadows of the 50 states quarter program.

If the time ever comes when a living denomination needs to be ended, it is not a favor to collectors to keep it alive like a numismatic zombie.

Current issues are supposed to reflect current conditions, to be part of the fabric of history. Isn’t that why you collect them?

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

More Collecting Resources

• More than 600 issuing locations are represented in the Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1701-1800 .

• Order the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, General Issues to learn about circulating paper money from 14th century China to the mid 20th century.