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All About the Nickel
February 11, 2011

Better late than never. Approximately five years after coin collectors began the discussion about what to do about the cost of producing the U.S. nickel, we are now seeing the topic appearing more and more elsewhere.

Russ Rulau wrote an article for Numismatic News about the profit potential for hoarding, but this was before the Treasury made it illegal to melt or export the coins at the end of 2006.

Unfortunately, the Treasury imposed the stopgap melting measure and it has sat there ever since. Treasury tried to use the problem as an excuse for Congress to delegate its power to regulate U.S. coinage to the Treasury secretary.

Congress didn’t buy it.

The idea was finally beaten back for the last time in the waning days of the last Congress in 2010.

What now?

We’re still waiting.

How long will it take Treasury to come up with a recommendation? Let's watch and see.

One of the more creative solutions was offered by Rep. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma a few years back. He suggested replacing the nickel with the old half dime, only this time made of the copper-nickel clad alloy presently used in dimes, quarters and half dollars. The alloy cost is just 1.3 cents at present market prices, a far cry from the 6.5 cents the metal in the nickel is presently worth.

In the meantime, enjoy the attention to this topic.

I particularly enjoyed a story that caught my eye when I visited

I hope you do, too.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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