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The Two-Cent Piece

1863 pattern two cents portrait of Washington (Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions 1863 blueprint two cents portrayal of Washington ( Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions ) Although the two-cent piece was coined for less than a decade, from 1864 to 1873, this unretentive tenure does not truly illustrate its importance. many of these coins continued to circulate and it was not until after 1890 that their use became rare in the marketplace. By the 1890s, of class, the coins were well worn but still recognizable.

Most collectors view the two-cent part as an curious appellation because it was coined for such a short time. however, it had been under circumstance as a mint on more than one occasion before recently May 1864 when minting actually began at the Philadelphia Mint. Because minor change was much in light supply in the early United States, in 1806 Congressman Uri Tracy introduced a bill for a two-cent musical composition. The reasoning behind this proposal was that the current copper cent was excessively intemperate and something smaller was needed. Tracy thought that a billon mint, composed of copper and a humble amount of silver, would serve the nation well. Mint Director Robert Patterson thought otherwise and wrote Representative Tracy of his differing views. In detail Patterson noted that such coins could well be counterfeited because it would be difficult for the median citizen to determine if the nibble contained the proper come of silver medal or, for that matter, any argent at all. The director ’ south reasoned argument carried the sidereal day and Tracy withdrew his bill from consideration. From 1806 to 1835 nothing was heard of a two-cent part but in the latter year Treasury Secretary Levi Woodbury resurrected the idea. ( Woodbury besides thought that a gold dollar was needed by the populace. ) Woodbury wanted a billon neologism for the two-cent musical composition and suggested that it be nine-tenths copper and one-tenth silver. In late 1835 the Treasury Secretary ordered Mint Director Robert M. Patterson, ironically the son of the director in 1806, to have dies prepared and patterns struck for both denominations .Mint Director James Pollock Mint Director James Pollock Patterson in flex instructed Mint Engraver Christian Gobrecht to begin work on the necessary dies. The director privately considered both denominations a waste of time but however carried out his instructions after unproductively trying to persuade Woodbury differently. Two-cent traffic pattern pieces were struck in 1836 to show the choice of the metal involved. Patterns were struck in both billon and pure bull to show the difficulty, as had been pointed out in 1806, of detecting counterfeits containing no silver at all. Using these, the director had fiddling difficulty convincing friendly Congressmen that billon neologism was not the path to take. The gold-dollar idea was conduct with barely as easily. ( The foremost billon coins to be struck as regular neologism in this state were the war-time nickels of 1942–1945 while a second case is seen in the Kennedy half dollar of 1965–1970. ) The Treasury chief was mildly irritated by the failure of his ideas but accepted kill with beneficial grace. The idea of a gold dollar was brought up again in 1844 but was just as cursorily shelved, this clock time until 1849 when Congress passed a police authorizing the modest gold coin. It was not until the darkness days of the Civil War that the concept of a two-cent coin once more raised itself to the forefront. This time, however, it was the batch director who pushed for the denomination, not the early way around. At the begin of the war, in April 1861, all gold and silver coins in the South had immediately vanished into hoards or were sent afield to pay for war materials, but in the North even gold did not leave circulation until December 1861 .Joseph Wharton Joseph Wharton In June 1862 argent coins in the North began to be hoarded or exported and now there was little forget for the average citizen to use in the marketplace, for small items, except shinplasters ( government notes for less than a dollar ) and copper-nickel cents. By the early fall of 1862, in an event which baffled contemporaries, the public began to hoard even the junior-grade copper-nickel cent, which had an intrinsic rate of only about one-half its face value. This sudden loss of even the penny had an unexpected result when private manufacturers switched over to striking small copper pieces which passed as a cent among the public. These were the same size as the modern cent and were made of copper or bronze. There were two kinds of these tokens, either strictly patriotic or advertising a local business. many millions of these pieces were made and served to aid the public in purchasing the necessities needed for their casual lives. Today these are called Civil War Tokens ( CWT ) and are collected by those with an interest in individual tokens or Civil War numismatics. Mint Director James Pollock had ordered a strong increase of cent neologism during the recently summer of 1862, but the new coins seemed to drop into a bottomless pit. The hoard became tied more intense as the Civil War Tokens became more common in the marketplace. It was not long, however, before Director Pollock realized that in these tokens was the answer to the deficit of politics coins .Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase In particular the tokens made from bronze ( 95 percentage copper, the remainder tin and zinc ) caught Pollock ’ second attention. By the summer of 1863 Pollock was openly lobbying for a bronze cent and two-cent piece but his suggestion ran up against the powerful politics of the nickel industry. Pennsylvania nickel mine owner Joseph Wharton was just then preparing to go into all-out production and taking nickel out of the penny alloy did not go well. To protect his future profits, Wharton fight with every device at his command in order to keep the government from eliminating nickel from the coinage. Pollock, with his revolutionary ideas about a bronze government neologism, became Wharton ’ south head opposition. Knowing that radiation pattern pieces would be more effective than the written give voice, Pollock ordered Chief Engraver James B. Longacre to execute especial dies for a two-cent piece, to be twice the weight of the penny. Because this was considered pressing, Longacre used a mixture of old hubs and new designs in readying his model dies. By the end of November the dies were completed, and early December determine Pollock sending samples of the two-cent assemble to his superior in Washington, Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase. The plan on the reverse was roughly the same on all the patterns, although the style of the appellation varied reasonably on the different dies. There were two principal obverses, one with the head of George Washington and the early a shield surmounted by a laurel wreath. The latter besides had a scroll above with diverse mottoes. These included GOD AND OUR COUNTRY, GOD OUR TRUST, and IN GOD WE TRUST .1863 pattern two-cent piece, shield design. (Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions 1863 blueprint two-cent piece, shield design. ( Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions ) These religious mottoes were not something new to the blueprint neologism executed during the Civil War. In 1861 a Pennsylvania minister had written Secretary Chase about the need for such a give voice on the neologism, given the parlous times. The estimate caught Chase ’ s attention and he asked Director Pollock to prepare the necessary design pieces for his examination. Until 1863, however, the entirely such patterns were for the aureate and argent coins.

Regular issue 1864 two cents with large motto. (Images courtesy of Stacks-Bowers) regular issue 1864 two cents with large motto. ( Images courtesy of Stacks-Bowers ) tied though bronze two-cent patterns had been prepared by the end of 1863, Pollock made little headroom against the forces allied with nickel baron Joseph Wharton. By early March 1864, the director had begun to think that all was lost and that the two-cent patch and bronze penny were not going to happen. At just this time, however, Secretary Chase decided to throw the full burden of the Lincoln Administration behind the Pollock proposals. Wharton ’ second allies did their best to torpedo the newfangled ideas but after sharp argument, particularly in the House of Representatives, the nickel forces threw in the towel and the legislation advanced. On April 22 President Lincoln signed the poster into law ; for the first time a two-cent musical composition would be struck by the United States government for public use. Pollock had sent several designs to the Treasury, including those with the head of Washington, but he personally preferred a carapace blueprint on the obverse. For the inverse the conductor thought that a simple wreath enclosing the value was the best that could be done under the circumstances and clock constraints. Secretary Chase listened to his batch conductor and chose the ornamental design with carapace and laurel. There seems to be a general impression among collectors that the motto IN GOD WE TRUST was mandated by the new law to be on the two-cent part, but this is not quite the case. The law stipulated that the mint conductor was to choose the devices and mottoes with the approval of the Treasury. It did not take very long for the agreement to be reached and the dies for the two-cent piece were soon ready for use. The most pressing motivation was for the new bronze penny coins, but Pollock saw to it that the two-cent piece received its fairly share of attention. The first pieces of this raw denomination were delivered in late May and by the end of 1864 some 20 million had been made and delivered into the hands of a waiting populace. Roughly doubly that many bronze cents were made in the same fourth dimension period .1864 small motto (left) and 1864 large motto (right). (Images courtesy of heritage Auctions 1864 small motto ( left ) and 1864 large motto ( right ). ( Images courtesy of inheritance Auctions ) The foremost patterns with IN GOD WE TRUST had much smaller inscription for the motto than those on by and by dies. By accident, or possibly precisely using any dies that were available, the Mint struck a limited number of Small Motto two-cent pieces during May and June 1864. Book rate in XF–40, for case is about $ 725 according to the price scout appearing in Coins Magazine. On the early hand, the Large Motto variety, coined in heavy quantities, is easily obtained in precisely about any grade for a fair sum. In XF–40, the like rate as the above exemplar, there is an estimate pill of lone about $ 50. many of these were saved by the populace as a first year of consequence, accounting for their ready handiness today in the numismatic market. Proofs exist for both varieties of the 1864 coinage, but the Small Motto interpretation is an extreme rarity, carrying a check of about $ 85,000 in Proof–65. even the unconstipated consequence in the grade carries a $ 4,000 price tag. In 1864 proof two-cent pieces were issued as part of a ‘ silver ’ proof set or could be purchased individually for a small sum. Collectors who had ordered silver proof sets prior to June 1864 made up the dispute by buying single pieces late in the year. After 1864 the proof two-cent pieces were available either as part of the eloquent hardened or included in a minor set, which varied as the new copper-nickel denominations, three cents and five cents, were added in 1865 and 1866, respectively. The coin dearth was hush indeed dangerous in 1865 that two-cent pieces continued to pour from the presses in considerable quantities. It was not until the deep summer, after war ’ sulfur end, that mintages began to catch up with public demand. closely 14 million of these coins were struck in 1865, making this date about a common as 1864. Standard references assign the two dates, except in proof condition, about the same values. One assortment of the 1865 that has been controversial is the alleged 1865/4 overdate. Specialists nowadays broadly agree that this particular overdate is actually a re-punched go steady giving the appearance of an overdate. once the war began winding down in the former winter of 1864–1865, Wharton and his allies decided that the clock was good for another new mint, this time of copper-nickel and deserving three cents. In March 1865 the necessary legislation was signed by the President and newfangled coin was soon being struck by the Philadelphia Mint. It was besides struck in boastfully quantities and to a certain extent took the position of the two-cent piece, lessening the demand for the latter mint .1872 was the last date struck for circulation. (Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions 1872 was the final date struck for circulation. ( Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions ) In May 1866 Wharton struck again and this time a five-cent piece in copper-nickel was authorized. This new appellation proved highly democratic with the public and far cut into the need for two-cent pieces. The coinage of the two-cent piece dropped from 13.6 million in 1865 to under 3 million in 1867, a dramatic change. In 1870 it fell to under a million while the final class for circulation issues in 1872 was a relatively bantam 65,000 pieces. Prices are reasonable at the salute clock time for coins of 1864 through 1871, but 1872 surpasses values for the 1864 Small Motto. This possibly indicates that many of the 1872s were never released to the populace and rather melted when the denomination was abolished in 1873. Another of the debunk overdates is 1869/8, which is the result of die decay and not a figure 9 punched over the visualize 8. One of the odd Mint tasks in the early 1870s was cleaning coins and then re-issuing them to the public. Quite a few two-cent pieces were thus treat, along with numerous other base coins .1873 open 3 (left) and 1873 closed 3 (right). The 1873 two-cent piece, struck only in proof for collectors, has two different kinds of the figure 3. (Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions 1873 open 3 ( left ) and 1873 closed 3 ( right ). The 1873 two-cent part, struck merely in proof for collectors, has two different kinds of the figure 3. ( Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions ) With the declining mintages and lessening public demand, it was only a matter of time before the two-cent piece was abandoned. In February 1873 this came to pass but the two-cent patch was not the only victim. The silver dollar, half dime, and silver medal three penny piece all met a like destiny. In early 1873, before the law took effect on April 1, the Mint produced proof two-cent pieces as partially of the eloquent and minor proof sets. It has been estimated that more than a thousand pieces were struck and distributed although exact numbers were lost long ago when the relevant mint records were destroyed.

This death mintage is interesting in that 1873 coins come with a closed or unfold digit 3 in the date. The outdoors 3 is the more valuable of the two, but not by all that much .

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