Another U.S.-related item in the January 2012 issue of the Cuban Numismatic Association newsletter has to do with the circulation of U.S. half dimes on the island. Here is American Half Dimes circulated in Cuba, by Rudy Valentin.
After the Spanish American War, during the American occupation of the Island, the Americans who
traveled into the interior were surprised to receive silver American half dimes in their change. These
coins, minted from 1795 to 1873, were no longer in circulation in the United States, but were used in
Cuba and other West Indian Islands that had extreme necessities of small change, such as
2 ½ centimos. All these coins were punched and had no use in the U.S., so apparently some
enterprising person brought them to the island during the coinage scarcity which affected the West
Indies during the nineteenth century. It is unknown how they were entered into the money exchange
market, nor how many of these little coins were exported to Cuba, but recent reports are that you can still find some there, however, in very bad shape and not in your change, but in the hands of
collectors and individuals.
These coins were used mostly in the towns of the interior and even after the 1915/16 Cuban national
coinage was issued.
US collectors are aware of the rarity of the 1794 (dated) to 1805 half dimes, whereas the 1829-1873
issues could have been feasible for the purpose of this coin shortage.
Can anyone provide references to more information about the use of these cons in Cuba and the West Indes, and the "punch" used on them? Are these commonly seen counterstamps?
Wayne Homren, Editor
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