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Confusion of Some Kind
September 20, 2010



Back in the 1960s when silver coins gave way to clad coinage, it became standard Treasury policy to assert that any changes to U.S. coin designs would cause confusion among the public.

Two decades later, it admitted there was no evidence to back up that position. However, the main priority of the 1960s, replacing the circulating silver coinage with clad coinage and putting an end to the coin shortage had been accomplished.

Since then we have had cent design changes, nickel design changes, quarter design changes and multiple kinds of dollar coins including many design changes.

The public does not seem to be confused – or maybe they are.

On Saturday I saw one older fellow taking money at a brat fry. He was handed seven golden dollar coins (mixed Sac and Presidential designs.) He arranged them on the counter to count. He grouped five dollars together and paired two others with two quarters and announced that he had received $6.

How does someone arrange two golden colored coins with two silver colored coins that are smaller and call it a buck?

I don’t know, but I saw it happen.

Was it confusion?

I would say so.

He did it despite the fact that he had been told he was being given seven dollar coins as the transaction commenced. (That's why I started watching.)

No harm was done. Enough people were present and watching that the error was quickly spotted.

Afterwards I went back to putting brats in buns, which was my simple and unconfusing job.





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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, Bank Note Reporter 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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