The Two-Cent Piece

1863 pattern two cents portrait of Washington (Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions 1863 traffic pattern two cents portrayal of Washington ( Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions ) Although the two-cent man was coined for less than a ten, from 1864 to 1873, this light tenure does not in truth 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 course, the coins were well wear but calm recognizable.

Most collectors view the two-cent objet d’art as an curious denomination because it was coined for such a shortstop time. however, it had been under consideration as a mint on more than one affair before late May 1864 when minting actually began at the Philadelphia Mint. Because small change was often in short provide in the early United States, in 1806 Congressman Uri Tracy introduced a bill for a two-cent piece. The reasoning behind this marriage proposal was that the current copper cent was excessively big and something smaller was needed. Tracy thought that a billon coin, composed of copper and a little amount of flatware, would serve the nation well. Mint Director Robert Patterson thought otherwise and wrote Representative Tracy of his differing views. In especial Patterson noted that such coins could easily be counterfeited because it would be difficult for the average citizen to determine if the patch contained the proper total of silver or, for that matter, any silver medal at all. The director ’ south reasoned argumentation carried the day and Tracy withdrew his beak from consideration. From 1806 to 1835 nothing was heard of a two-cent piece but in the latter year Treasury Secretary Levi Woodbury resurrected the mind. ( Woodbury besides thought that a amber dollar was needed by the public. ) Woodbury wanted a billon neologism for the two-cent musical composition and suggested that it be nine-tenths copper and one-tenth silver. In former 1835 the Treasury Secretary ordered Mint Director Robert M. Patterson, ironically the son of the conductor in 1806, to have dies prepared and patterns struck for both denominations .Mint Director James Pollock Mint Director James Pollock Patterson in turn instructed Mint Engraver Christian Gobrecht to begin work on the necessary dies. The conductor privately considered both denominations a pine away of time but however carried out his instructions after unproductively trying to persuade Woodbury otherwise. Two-cent pattern pieces were struck in 1836 to show the quality of the metal involved. Patterns were struck in both billon and pure copper to show the difficulty, as had been pointed out in 1806, of detecting counterfeits containing no silver at all. Using these, the conductor had little difficulty convincing friendly Congressmen that billon neologism was not the path to take. The gold-dollar mind was conduct with fair as easily. ( The first billon coins to be struck as regular neologism in this area were the war-time nickels of 1942–1945 while a second example is seen in the Kennedy one-half dollar of 1965–1970. ) The Treasury chief was mildly irritated by the failure of his ideas but accepted get the better of with commodity grace. The mind of a amber dollar was brought up again in 1844 but was good as cursorily shelved, this time until 1849 when Congress passed a law authorizing the little gold coin. It was not until the dark days of the Civil War that the concept of a two-cent mint once more raised itself to the forefront. This prison term, however, it was the mint director who pushed for the denomination, not the other 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 abroad to pay for war materials, but in the North tied gold did not leave circulation until December 1861 .Joseph Wharton Joseph Wharton In June 1862 silver coins in the North began to be hoarded or exported and nowadays there was little left for the average citizen to use in the market, for modest 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 humble copper-nickel cent, which had an intrinsic value of alone about one-half its face value. This sudden loss of even the penny had an unexpected result when secret manufacturers switched over to striking little copper pieces which passed as a penny among the public. These were the same size as the modern penny and were made of copper or bronze. There were two kinds of these tokens, either strictly patriotic or advertising a local anesthetic commercial enterprise. many millions of these pieces were made and served to aid the public in purchasing the necessities needed for their daily lives. Today these are called Civil War Tokens ( CWT ) and are collected by those with an matter to in secret tokens or Civil War numismatics. Mint Director James Pollock had ordered a impregnable increase of penny neologism during the late summer of 1862, but the new coins seemed to drop into a bottomless orchestra pit. The billboard became even more intense as the Civil War Tokens became more common in the marketplace. It was not retentive, however, before Director Pollock realized that in these tokens was the answer to the deficit of government coins .Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase In detail the tokens made from bronze ( 95 percentage copper, the rest tin and zinc ) caught Pollock ’ s 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 herculean politics of the nickel diligence. 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 crusade with every device at his command in decree to keep the politics from eliminating nickel from the neologism. Pollock, with his rotatory ideas about a bronze government neologism, became Wharton ’ second chief adversary. Knowing that pattern pieces would be more effective than the written son, Pollock ordered Chief Engraver James B. Longacre to execute extra dies for a two-cent piece, to be doubly the weight of the cent. Because this was considered pressing, Longacre used a assortment of old hubs and new designs in readying his model dies. By the end of November the dies were completed, and early December see Pollock sending samples of the two-cent piece to his superior in Washington, Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase. The invention on the reversion was roughly the like on all the patterns, although the style of the denomination varied reasonably on the different dies. There were two star obverses, one with the mind of George Washington and the other a shield surmounted by a laurel wreath. The latter besides had a coil 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 practice two-cent nibble, carapace plan. ( Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions ) These religious mottoes were not something newfangled to the convention 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 coinage, given the parlous times. The estimate caught Chase ’ s attention and he asked Director Pollock to prepare the necessity pattern pieces for his examination. Until 1863, however, the only such patterns were for the gold and silver 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 ) even though bronze two-cent patterns had been prepared by the end of 1863, Pollock made little headway 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 piece and bronze penny were not going to happen. At equitable this clock, however, Secretary Chase decided to throw the broad burden of the Lincoln Administration behind the Pollock proposals. Wharton ’ second allies did their best to torpedo the newfangled ideas but after shrill debate, specially in the House of Representatives, the nickel forces threw in the towel and the legislation advanced. On April 22 President Lincoln signed the bill into law ; for the first fourth dimension a two-cent part would be struck by the United States government for populace habit. Pollock had sent respective designs to the Treasury, including those with the mind of Washington, but he personally preferred a shield blueprint on the obverse. For the revoke the director thought that a elementary wreath enclosing the value was the best that could be done under the circumstances and time constraints. Secretary Chase listened to his mint conductor and chose the ornamental design with shield 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 piece, but this is not quite the lawsuit. The jurisprudence stipulated that the mint director was to choose the devices and mottoes with the approval of the Treasury. It did not take very hanker for the agreement to be reached and the dies for the two-cent slice were soon ready for manipulation. The most pressing need was for the newly tan penny coins, but Pollock saw to it that the two-cent patch received its fairly plowshare of attention. The first pieces of this new appellation 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 like time period .1864 small motto (left) and 1864 large motto (right). (Images courtesy of heritage Auctions 1864 small motto ( left ) and 1864 boastfully motto ( right ). ( Images courtesy of inheritance Auctions ) The beginning patterns with IN GOD WE TRUST had much smaller letter for the motto than those on former dies. By accident, or possibly just using any dies that were available, the Mint struck a limited phone number of Small Motto two-cent pieces during May and June 1864. Book value in XF–40, for example is about $ 725 according to the price usher appearing in Coins Magazine. On the early hand, the Large Motto variety, coined in grave quantities, is easily obtained in just about any grade for a fair union. In XF–40, the lapp grade as the above example, there is an calculate tab of only about $ 50. many of these were saved by the public as a first year of issue, accounting for their ready handiness today in the numismatic market. Proofs exist for both varieties of the 1864 coinage, but the Small Motto version is an extreme rarity, carrying a pill of about $ 85,000 in Proof–65. tied the regular return in the grade carries a $ 4,000 price tag. In 1864 proofread two-cent pieces were issued as separate of a ‘ silver ’ proof set or could be purchased individually for a humble sum. Collectors who had ordered eloquent proof sets prior to June 1864 made up the dispute by buying single pieces later in the year. After 1864 the proof two-cent pieces were available either as part of the ash grey set or included in a minor set, which varied as the newly copper-nickel denominations, three cents and five cents, were added in 1865 and 1866, respectively. The coin dearth was still so hard in 1865 that two-cent pieces continued to pour from the presses in considerable quantities. It was not until the late summer, after war ’ s end, that mintages began to catch up with public demand. closely 14 million of these coins were struck in 1865, making this date about equally common as 1864. Standard references assign the two dates, except in proof condition, about the lapp values. One variety of the 1865 that has been controversial is the alleged 1865/4 overdate. Specialists now generally agree that this particular overdate is actually a re-punched date giving the appearance of an overdate. once the war began winding down in the recently winter of 1864–1865, Wharton and his allies decided that the clock time was advanced for another newly coin, this time of copper-nickel and worth three cents. In March 1865 the necessary legislation was signed by the President and new coin was soon being struck by the Philadelphia Mint. It was besides struck in large quantities and to a certain extent took the place of the two-cent while, lessening the necessitate for the latter coin .1872 was the last date struck for circulation. (Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions 1872 was the last date struck for circulation. ( Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions ) In May 1866 Wharton struck again and this time a five-cent assemble in copper-nickel was authorized. This raw denomination proved extremely democratic with the public and far snub into the motivation for two-cent pieces. The mintage of the two-cent part dropped from 13.6 million in 1865 to under 3 million in 1867, a dramatic exchange. In 1870 it fell to under a million while the concluding class for circulation issues in 1872 was a relatively bantam 65,000 pieces. Prices are reasonable at the deliver 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 public and alternatively melted when the denomination was abolished in 1873. Another of the debunk overdates is 1869/8, which is the leave of die crumble and not a figure 9 punched over the calculate 8. One of the leftover Mint tasks in the early 1870s was cleaning coins and then re-issuing them to the public. Quite a few two-cent pieces were indeed 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 exposed 3 ( left ) and 1873 closed 3 ( right ). The 1873 two-cent while, struck only in proof for collectors, has two different kinds of the figure 3. ( Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions ) With the declining mintages and lessening public necessitate, it was only a topic of clock time before the two-cent piece was abandoned. In February 1873 this came to pass but the two-cent man was not the only victim. The silver dollar, half dime, and silver medal three cent piece all met a similar destiny. In early 1873, before the law took effect on April 1, the Mint produced proof two-cent pieces as separate of the silver and minor proof sets. It has been estimated that more than a thousand pieces were struck and distributed although accurate numbers were lost long ago when the relevant mint records were destroyed.

This last mintage is interesting in that 1873 coins come with a close or open figure 3 in the date. The open 3 is the more valuable of the two, but not by all that much .

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