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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 5, January 29, 2006, Article 8

DIMES AND POLITICS: MINT DIRECTOR WILLIAM BRETT

The Repository of Canton, OH published a story this week
about a former U.S. Mint Director's experiences.  Here are
a few excerpts:

"Fifty years ago, former Stark County resident William
Brett was keeping political party members from playing
penny-ante politics with America’s money.

OK, technically the ante was a dime in the middle of the
1950s. Specifically, the 61-year-old former Alliance
businessman was attempting five decades ago to calm
Republicans who were annoyed by the Roosevelt dime.

Those members of the Grand Old Party couldn’t understand
why a Republican presidential administration — that of
Dwight D. Eisenhower — would continue to make a coin
with a famous Democrat’s head on it."

"The director tried to tell his fellow party members
that the coin controversy really was out of his — and
Eisenhower’s — hands.

“I simply tell them, in as unprejudiced way as I can,
that these Roosevelt dimes, by law, must be made until
1971,” Brett explained in 1955.

The design of any coin could not be changed for 25 years,
he explained. The Roosevelt dime was first coined in 1946.

With that rule in place while Brett was head of the Mint,
the only coin design that could have been changed — and
all changes were made on the decision of the Mint’s director
— was the Lincoln penny, which was first coined in 1909.

“And I can assure you,” Brett said, “I won’t do that.”

"Through his job, Brett encountered some “puzzling situations”
concerning the distribution of coins, the newspaper article
noted. Coins had a penchant for accumulating in certain areas
of the country, the writer explained.

A lot of nickels were found in Cincinnati, for example.
Dimes, to the chagrin of Republicans there, accumulated
in San Antonio. Quarters piled up in Minneapolis.

“We think we know the explanation for the quarters in
Minneapolis,” Brett told the reporter. “There are a lot of
cereal companies there, and people are always sending them
box tops, with quarters.”

"Even if party politics had been successful in stopping the
production of Roosevelt dimes in 1971, the dimes already
in circulation would have lingered for two to three decades
— through several more Democratic and Republican administrations.

We have the benefit of enough hindsight, of course, to know
that new mintings of the Roosevelt dime continue to pop up
in our pocket every year — their existence guarded, at least
for a few years, by a Stark County Republican who was
nonpartisan when it came to pocket change."

To read the complete story, see: Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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