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Let's debate merits of half dime idea
September 23, 2008



I had a conversation with Rep. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma yesterday for Coin Chat Radio about his proposal for a half dime coin to replace the nickel.

His is a logic-driven argument in favor of the coin. It will be half the weight of the dime and cost less than face value to produce with its standard copper-nickel clad alloy that is already used in the dime, quarter and half dollar.

It is too early in the cycle to know what the vending machine industry thinks of this or what the Mint thinks. However, he says that he has talked with House Banking Committee Chairman Barney Frank about it. Frank has promised him hearings next year at the subcommittee level. It would be expected that the vending machine industry and the Mint would have prominent seats at the witness table.

Lucas admits he doesn't really know how even his own constituents will react to such a coin, but for coin collectors, it opens the door to all sorts of wonderful conversations.

I had lunch with Fred Borgmann, a former colleague here at Krause, and his wife yesterday at the Crystal Cafe (where else?) and one of the topics of conversation was the half dime proposal.

Fred couldn't see it. He thought a thorough reform of U.S. coin sizes was more logical. Simply to insert a smaller half dime into the mix would make two current coins smaller than the cent. He said if the cent were abolished, he supposed it would be OK, but he wasn't enthusiastic about that course of action.

I imagine there will be all sorts of conversations like mine among collectors as this process unfolds. Inertia is always strong and if I had to place a bet on the outcome, I would bet on a nickel-plated steel coin of the same diameter of the current nickel. I took this position during a talk to the Sarasota Coin Club at the beginning of 2007.

With hearings sometime next year, there will be plenty of time for all sorts of ideas to be thrown into the mix.



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Recent Comments
On September 23, 2008 said
Retool, swap nickel and dime. Scrap cent. Vending machines still happy.
On September 23, 2008 venger said
I think that they should scrap the cent  the dollar bill, and the nickel  in 2010.Then introduce the half dime

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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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