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Why do so few half cents and large cents survive?  
 

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New Member

United States
5 Posts
 Posted 05/23/2018  9:45 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add Sharkman to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I am a type collector considering the purchase of a braided hair Half Cent. In examining population rates and estimates, I am struck that so few Half Cents and large cents survive.
I understand that silver and gold coins have been melted for bullion value when their intrinsic value exceeds the face value. I also understand that at times superseded coins have been melted by the mint for coining contemporary issues such as Morgan dollars and later Peace dollars. This helps explain the sometimes great difference between mintages and survival rates.
So can anyone tell me what happened to the early copper? I am not aware of nineteenth century copper prices spiking, but I claim no expertise there. Were these coins melted, and why? Or were they simply lost over the years?
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United States
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 Posted 05/23/2018  10:08 pm  Show Profile   Check Crazyb0's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Crazyb0 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
They were the workhorse of coinage of the time. What did they buy? Some earned five of them...a day! Take other series of coins over our 225 plus years of US coins, which were the workhorses, large cents, the Indian Heads. half dimes came into play along with the nickel. EVERYBODY used them. Merchants would use the larger values, quart half and dollar, but these were subject to gubmint melts, the "chump change" wasn't. It kept getting used. It still does today. Ever found a Buffalo nickel CRHing? Most of us have. I grew up in the 50's, we saw Buffalos, Mercury dimes and some slick SLQ's regularly. Our coinage served its purpose, it was "used to death".

To your specific question of copper coins. Banks "reclaimed" old coins, like old bills. Taken out of service. Some were sold off to be melted and remixed as coin alloys, others just mass melted.


Edited by Crazyb0
05/23/2018 10:25 pm
New Member
United States
5 Posts
 Posted 05/23/2018  10:20 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Sharkman to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for your enlightening observations on early minor coinage. I,too, remember slick SLQs, buffaloes, and Mercury dimes circulating when I started collecting as a boy in the early '60s.
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 Posted 05/24/2018  12:00 am  Show Profile   Check spruett001's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add spruett001 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Also, both half-cents and large cents became more valuable for melt once the small cents began with the FEC. I don't know about a spike in copper prices then, but I assume that the value of copper was a primary reason for introducing small cents in the first place, as it was with the switch to Zincolns.
Bad puns make me [sic].

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Edited by spruett001
05/24/2018 12:01 am
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Australia
14414 Posts
 Posted 05/24/2018  12:07 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Most of them were recovered by the Mint, melted, alloyed, and restruck into smaller, lighter and cheaper to mint One Cent coins.
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 Posted 05/24/2018  12:56 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
That is the principal reason, very simple.
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 Posted 05/24/2018  5:10 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Conder101 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
In the early years the price of copper did rise to the point where the copper in the cent was worth more than the face value. That was why the weight of the cent was reduced in December of 1795 from 13.48 grams to 10.88 grams. Tat lead to the melting of many early dates cents. There were many coppersmiths, coopers, and other businesses that need copper as a raw material and melting down cents was cheaper than buying raw copper.

In 1852 or 53 copper once again rose to the point where the metal in the coin was worth more than the face value. This eventually lead to the size reduction of the cent in 1857. When that occurred the Mint actually set up booths exchanging the new small cents for the old large cents and worn Spanish silver coins. That brought in millions of large cents that were melted down. Even after the exchanges stopped large cents continued to circulate and as they came back into the Treasury from banks and in tax payment they were returned to the mint and were melted. The figures for the numbers melted can sometimes be found in the Mint's annual reports (They don't report the same things every year.), and that once again accounted for more millions of coins.
Gary Schmidt
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United States
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 Posted 05/24/2018  5:51 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Sharkman to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Wow! Thank you for all the informative information.
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New Zealand
139 Posts
 Posted 05/25/2018  02:13 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Aoraki to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Good thread!
EAC #6558
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 Posted 06/20/2018  6:34 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add MrsFranklin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply


My father owned a country grocery store in the 70's and 80's. He taught us to save anything silver, Buffalo, Mercury or out of the ordinary that came through the register and put it in the cigar box. I inherited a bunch of that old silver from him recently. I'm enjoying going through it. Great memories!

I had no idea large cents were rare. I'm learning a lot from all of you!
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 Posted 06/21/2018  11:08 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
My father owned a country grocery store in the 70's and 80's. He taught us to save anything silver, Buffalo, Mercury or out of the ordinary that came through the register and put it in the cigar box. I inherited a bunch of that old silver from him recently. I'm enjoying going through it. Great memories!
Very interesting!
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United States
16666 Posts
 Posted 06/21/2018  1:38 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add just carl to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
And note they do not fit in gum ball machines so they stopped making them for that reason.
just carl
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United States
270 Posts
 Posted 06/30/2018  03:42 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add atchisonbj to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The Treasury had the Half Cents and large cents melted when they came back in transactions after the switch to the small cent in 1857. The large cent after production ended also had several alternative careers. Two interesting ones come to mind: inn keepers like to use them for door keys and undertakers used them to keep the eyes closed on bodies.
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United States
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 Posted 06/30/2018  07:13 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Kurrency Ken to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I've never had a problem locating a copper I've needed in the grade I wanted. Forget the population report garbage and go to your Early American Copper (EAC) dealers.

KK
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United States
7 Posts
 Posted 06/30/2018  2:45 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add MrsFranklin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Ken,

Do you have an EAC dealer you recommend?

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