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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 22, May 28, 2006, Article 3

BURDETTE UNVEILS THE 1942 HALF DIME

The August 2006 issue of Coin World's "Coin Prices" magazine is
bundled with the current issue of Coin World (June 5th). The
issue's theme is copper-nickel five cent coins and includes a
"what-might-have-been" article by Roger Burdette (p50) on the
proposed 1942 half dime. Before everyone runs off to check their
trusty "Red Book" or U.S. pattern literature, don't bother - the
coins were never struck.  But it's a great untold story of WWII
numismatics.  The article is illustrated with six original sketches
and is a must-read for anyone with the slightest interest in
twentieth century U.S. coinage.

The genesis of the half dime concept was the wartime need to
conserve the use of strategic metals including copper and nickel,
which ultimately led to the use of steel in U.S. cents and silver
in the "nickel".  I asked Roger to provide us with a synopsis of
his article.  He writes:

"The idea seems to have been proposed by Phillip C. Meyer, a druggist
from Richmond, VA, and by the middle of 1942 Philadelphia Mint engraver
John Sinnock had prepared design drawings. His obverse featured a bust
of Ben Franklin much like that later used on the half dollar. The
reverse choices include a Liberty Bell (sound familiar?), eagle head,
ear of corn, and a "V" with oak leaves next to it (a nice pun on the
"V for Victory sign" and the denomination "5" in Roman numerals.

The half dime was to have been similar in size and composition to
the old Seated Liberty half-dime. It was intended to be a mercantile
replacement for the five-cent copper-nickel coin, although vending
machines were expected to continue using the "nickel."

By the end of the year, the decision had been made to change the
nickel alloy, and to use zinc coated steel for the cent. The 1942
silver half-dime, and a companion three-cent piece, vanished into
the archives never to be coined. Ben Franklin and the Liberty Bell
found a home on the new half dollar of 1948, much to the pleasure
of mint director Ross."

[This article illustrates two important points.  One, that God
knows how many important numismatic facts remain buried in government
archives awaiting researchers like Roger to come along, and Two,
that one should never overlook ANY numismatic publication, for great
information can appear anywhere.  I'm sure there are many Coin World
readers who may simply put aside Coin Prices, but there are some
great articles in there!  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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