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Why Was The Weight Of The Silver Subsidiary Coins Reduced In The 1850 S?

 
 
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Pillar of the Community
Canada
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 Posted 04/23/2019  11:00 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add oriole to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Up to that time the there was .773 oz ASW per dollar face. Subsequently the silver coins up to 50 cents were reduced to .72 oz ASW per dollar face, while the dollar coins stayed at .773 oz.

The reasons might be based on murky politics, but does anyone have a short version of an explanation?
Valued Member
United States
237 Posts
 Posted 04/23/2019  11:32 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add gotboostedvr6 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Subbd
Pillar of the Community
Canada
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 Posted 04/23/2019  11:53 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add oriole to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Subbd


Either that is too short or I am too dense to get it!
Bedrock of the Community
United States
15603 Posts
 Posted 04/23/2019  1:15 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Conder101 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Not politics, economics.

With the discovery of massive amounts of gold in California in 1849 the value of gold in the open market fell. This meant the silver, as priced in gold, had it value increased. In other words it now took $1.04 to $1.08 in gold to buy the silver in $1 of us silver coins. So people hoarded the silver coins. Reducing the weight of the silver coins put them slightly below the same par value as gold. At the same time the government eliminated the free coinage option for silver, all silver coinage would now be done on the governments account and they would derive the profit on the coins seigniorage, and limited the legal tender status of minor silver coinage to $5. One mistake they made was in not reducing the weight of the silver dollar. It was felt it would be a loss of "prestige" to reduce the weight of the standard unit. In doing so it put another nail in the coffin of dollar coin circulation. Who is going to use for a $1 a coin worth almost ten percent more than $1? (The legal tender status of the silver dollar was not reduced. You could use as many of these $1.08 value silver dollars as you wanted.)
Gary Schmidt
Edited by Conder101
04/23/2019 1:22 pm
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 Posted 04/23/2019  1:32 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Correct and well summarized.
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Canada
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 Posted 04/23/2019  2:15 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add oriole to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks, @Conder101. That makes perfect sense. Some economics, some politics (keeping the silver dollar unchanged), but eventually when the price of silver dropped everything except gold was effectively a token coinage (although a substantial token for quite a while).
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 Posted 04/23/2019  10:41 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add just carl to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Interesting reply. Learned something today.
just carl
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United States
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 Posted 04/24/2019  05:54 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add joecoin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I was just looking at related info on this.

An 1857 silver dollar weighed 26.73 grams.
An 1857 silver half dollar weighed 12.44 grams.
So, the dollar weighed 1.85 grams more than two half dollars.

BUT, the Three Cent silver weighed 0.75 grams, meaning that one dollars worth of three centers weighed 25 grams. Making the dollar 1.73 grams heavier than 33 1/3 Three Cent pieces.


AND, the silver quarter dollar weighed 6.68 grams making a dollars worth of those weigh 26.72 grams, only 0.01 grams less than the silver dollar.

What does this all mean?

I have no clue. Sorry.

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Australia
15605 Posts
 Posted 04/24/2019  08:25 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Being currency of the State ( the U.S.), the weights of the various coins would have to be changed by Law or Legal Regulation.

The reasons behind the change can be more interesting. Usually business interests at work.

I am sure that there would be an article in
The Numistmatist that would explain all.
Bedrock of the Community
United States
18243 Posts
 Posted 04/24/2019  11:11 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add just carl to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
AND, the silver quarter dollar weighed 6.68 grams making a dollars worth of those weigh 26.72 grams, only 0.01 grams less than the silver dollar.

What does this all mean?

I have no clue. Sorry.

So now you found out how much our government knows about our money.
just carl
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United States
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 Posted 04/24/2019  1:33 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Conder101 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Your figure of weight for the silver quarter of 1857 is wrong. The weights of the dime, quarter, and half were all proportional. The weight of the quarter was 6.22 grams and four of them was 24.88 grams, also 1.85 grams less than the dollar coin.
Gary Schmidt
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 Posted 04/24/2019  1:35 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add cipster to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I am sure that there would be an article in
The Numistmatist that would explain all


There is an article in the May issue of the Numismatist that talks about the 1853 Quarter and the fact that the weight was reduced from 6.68g to 6.22g after only 44,000 of the 15.2 million were produced. The mint added arrows and rays to the lighter weight coins and this resulted in altered coins where the arrows and rays were removed by forgers.

The article says that the weights were reduced by Congress to discourage melting for a profit.
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United States
518 Posts
 Posted 04/24/2019  2:52 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add joecoin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Your figure of weight for the silver quarter of 1857 is wrong. The weights of the dime, quarter, and half were all proportional. The weight of the quarter was 6.22 grams and four of them was 24.88 grams, also 1.85 grams less than the dollar coin.


I know better than to use just once source, and yet that's what I did here. I got that 6.68 gram figure from the 2019 Blue Book.
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