Oh, and one more thing - Dave Ginsburg also alerted me to Roger Burdette's comments over on the NGC discussion boards regarding Dave
Wnuck’s question about Shield Nickels. Thanks again, Dave! Here's Roger's take on where all the shield nickels went. -Editor
In his business newsletter Making the Grade #25, Dave Wunck of Dave Wnuck Numismatics LLC, muses about the paltry numbers of U.S.
coins that have survived to the present. He wonders where they went – especially coins made from non-precious metals. He continues:
So let's pick a coin struck [in] a metal where there was no significant melting: nickel. I know of no one who has melted
quantities of nickel coins to turn them into nickel alloy ingots for speculation or investment, for example.
And then let’s pick a design: the Shield nickels made from 1866 through 1883.
There were 128 million shield nickels minted. Do even 5% of these survive? If so, that still means that several million shield nickels
are still lying around somewhere.
Although it's not obvious, there actually was one place that melted large quantities of shield nickels – the U.S. Mint. One of the
functions of the mints was to remove worn, damaged and mutilated coins from circulation. These came to the mints in bags and barrels from banks,
sub-Treasuries and later, Federal Reserve Banks. Almost anything that resembled a U.S. coin but was not acceptable in circulation found its way to
the mints and from there to the melting crucibles.
Over time, as new coins replaced old, and old coins became badly worn, the remains were melted by the ton. This recovered metal was used
in the next generation of Liberty, or Buffalo or Jefferson nickels. (The same applied to all coin denominations.)
So, next time you come across a dateless Buffalo nickel remember that its metal might once have been part of a shiny new shield nickel,
anxious to delight a child’s sweet tooth.
Maybe someone will take up the task of collecting the recoinage information. I suspect the cumulative quantities will surprise
To read the complete discussion, see:
Dave Wnuck muses about the survival
of U.S. coins. (http://boards.collectors-society.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=9129294#Post9129294)
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
WHERE HAVE ALL THE SHIELD NICKELS GONE?
Wayne Homren, Editor
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