What happened to pre-1873 silver coins?
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When the Coinage Act of 1873 was signed among the changes was a slight increase in the intrinsic value of subsidiary silver coins and the elimination of duplicate denominations. (The change made 2 US halves exactly equal to French 5 fr coin.)

 

The last paragraph of this letter to Treasury Secretary Richardson gives us added insight into the fate of silver coins made before April 1, 1873. (The transcription is by one of the volunteers requested in a previous post.)

 

18730712%20T%20old%20silver%20coins-combined_sm_zpspctjrfrm.jpg

Edited by RWB

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It's interesting to see these old documents, but the trivial changes made to the weights of the dime, quarter and half dollar were so slight that the old coins still fell within the weight tolerance of the new ones. Therefore, they could have remained current in practice, but it was a matter of policy that they had to be declared obsolete. The insignificance of this change was such that both old and new tenor coins circulated side-by-side for decades, once silver coins in general returned to circulation after 1875. The public was oblivious to the change, as were most coin collectors of the time.

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I suspect Linderman was after two things:

1. It was profitable to melt and recoin the pre-April 1873 silver if it was already in stock (and not otherwise needed?)

2. Denominations made obsolete by the Coinage Act could not be released.

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Thanks for posting the letter.

 

As I do not have time to spend looking around the NARA, I appreciate being able to see sources like this that I would otherwise not have found. (thumbs u

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Maybe that helps explain what happened to the silver 3-cent coin (Trime):

 

"Nearly the entire production of non-Proof coins from 1863 to 1872 was melted in 1873." -- from my 2015 Redbook.

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The 1873-S half dimes were supposed to have been destroyed and the metal used for new dimes, but that must not have happened.... (Thanks, Capt Henway for the heads up!)

Edited by RWB

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The Henry D. Cogswell Time Capsule, sealed in San Francisco in 1879, including 10 uncirculated 1873-S half dimes, along with numerous other coins. It's presumed that these came directly from the SF Mint, so the half dimes were not immediately melted after passage of the 1873 act.

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