In 1862, the Civil War was far underway. Its effects were not just evident on the landscape, government, and production. The money of that time took a hard hit, and the people that used it. As the first Legal Tender notes were issued in 1862, the public lost trust in the economy. Citizens preferred the coins of that time to the new "greenbacks" which were not yet backed by the U.S., and many people went searching for the lower, and higher denominations and hoarding them. With the Union and the Confederacy struggling to pay for the war, and people hoarding, war bonds became the norm'. This was a terrible time in the economy. on April 20th of 1862, the Mint inventoried 940,379 one cent pieces. This was a good supply for the economy, and things were looking good. Until August 31st. On that day, only 368 one cent pieces remained, and the banks of the Union were panicking, adding to the already " Hard Times" Many substitutes came in through circulation made by shops and businesses, This led to famous series of tokens, and the back-in-time motion of our economy. Within months shells, and leather were used again as currency. In December it was no better, having only 254 one cent pieces left. With the war affecting overseas trade, the mint did not have sufficient supplies to mint the greatly needed cents. Most of the materials had already been taken from American soil, except for some small amount left in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and even this was depleted because of problems smelting the ore of nickel and copper.
Mint officials were now draining the supply of turned in large cents to melt, and remind into new small cents. Many experimental compositions were tried out, but ultimately the copper-nickel prevailed. Many large companies experienced delays for orders of cents of up to four months along with chain banks. Citizens were lining in front of the treasury and mints hoping to grab some one cent pieces. The women were served first, and then the men. Also in 1862, the Union took back the New Orleans mint, but it would be over a decade before minting would begin again. Postage currency bills also flooded commerce, creating oddities for numismatists to collect today. Because many were saved in hoards, the number of high state examples exist in the many thousands, although MS-65 is quite rare. In 1918 many auctions sold off lots of 100 or more cents of 1862 in MS+ condition for a relatively cheap price. Not only did one cent pieces disappear, but all denominations. mintages soared in following years to get the economy back into shape, and alloy differences were struck eventually in 1863.