SNIPPETS OF HISTORY: ‘ Twenty-cent piece minted to alleviate shortage of small-change in Far West ‘

#AceHistoryNews – Sept.15: The American twenty-cent piece was a coin struck from 1875 to 1878, but only for collectors in the final two years. In 1874 Nevada’s newly elected senator, John P. Jones, began promoting his bill for a twenty-cent piece to alleviate the shortage of small change in the Far West.

The bill passed Congress the following year, and Mint Director Henry Linderman ordered pattern coins struck. Although the new coin’s edge was smooth rather than reeded, as with other silver coins, the new piece was close to the size of, and immediately confused with, the quarter. Adding to the bewilderment, the obverses (front faces) of the coins were almost identical.

After the first year, in which over a million were minted, there was little demand, and the denomination was abolished in 1878. At least a third of the total mintage was later melted by the government. Numismatist Mark Benvenuto called the twenty-cent piece "a chapter of U.S. coinage history that closed almost before it began".

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