Friday, August 28, 2015

Word of the Day -- Twenty-Cent Piece

 
The American twenty-cent piece was a coin struck from 1875 to 1878, but only for collectors in the final two years. Proposed by Nevada Senator John P. Jones, it proved a failure due to confusion with the quarter, with which it was close in size.

In 1874, the newly elected Senator Jones began pressing for a twenty-cent piece, which he stated would alleviate the shortage of small change in the Far West. The bill passed Congress, and Mint Director Henry Linderman ordered pattern coins struck. Linderman eventually decided on an obverse similar to that of other silver coins. Although the coins had a smooth edge, rather than reeded as with other silver coins, the new piece was close to the size of, and immediately confused with, the quarter. Adding to the bewilderment, the obverse, or "heads", sides of both coins were almost identical. After the first year, in which over a million were minted, there was little demand, and the denomination was abolished in 1878. At least a third of the total mintage was later melted by the government. Numismatist Mark Benvenuto called the twenty-cent piece "a chapter of U.S. coinage history that closed almost before it began".

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