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Melt Ban Unnecessary But Will Stay
By David C. Harper, Numismatic News
July 20, 2012

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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Is the Treasury’s current ban on melting cents and nickels necessary? I have been attempting to draw conclusions from my recent circulation experiences.

I have a small covered metal container that is about half full of nickels. For the last couple of years, I have made it a point to save every single nickel I have received in change. There are exceptions, of course. A few don’t make it home with me at the end of the day I received them. Another small number have ended up in my car to help pay the unmanned automatic toll booths around Chicago O’Hare airport. (I don’t like overpaying if I can help it.)

I guess I can conclude that I simply don’t get many nickels. Usually I don’t get home with more than a quarter, which is the change I get from lunch at the Crystal Cafe after I have paid the bill and left a tip. The sad thing is I started out the morning with a $10 bill earmarked for that purpose.

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Not surprisingly, it is now quarters that seem to predominate among the denominations in my old yogurt container where I throw the other denominations. This is proved each time I go to the bank and cash in the coins, because the amount I receive has been going up. Only a change in the number of the higher denominations can account for the rising dollar value of the same volume of coins.

For about the same length of time that I have been segregating nickels, I have been putting cents of the old 95-percent copper alloy aside in yet a third container. This one is filling up even more slowly than the nickel container.

It marks another of my attempts to evaluate what is still circulating out there in commerce without actually having to physically inventory every single coin. I look at each date as I throw cents into the containers, but over time all I do is eyeball the various accumulations. I do not augment my nickel or copper-cent containers with any coins from roll searches. What’s there is what I have received in daily transactions.

I can safely declare that it is not uncommon to get a copper cent in change in this part of Wisconsin. I usually get one or more of them each week. However, perhaps due to the roll searches being conducted by readers of Numismatic News and other collectors, nearly all of the copper cents I do get are dated in the 1970s. Wheat-back cents are virtually unknown in my daily change.

If the Treasury lifted its 2006 ban on the melting of cents, I wouldn’t expect it to have any material impact on the numbers the Mint currently has to strike. It might even have the opposite effect as people bring out whatever coins they have to see if the have any of the copper coins currently worth 2.25 cents each.

The melting ban for nickels is not necessary either at the present values for nickel and copper, but will this be true for as long as it takes the Mint to come up with a new composition? That’s a question I can’t answer and is the reason why the melt ban will likely stay in place until decisions are made and a substitute coin supply can be created.



More Coin Collecting Resources:

State Quarters Deluxe Folder By Warmans

• Subscribe to our Coin Price Guide, buy Coin Books Coin Folders and join the NumisMaster VIP Program

Strike It Rich with Pocket Change, 2nd Edition



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