Long Beard's Blog

25 Aug 2020

The Shorter Method

Coins-United States | Long Beard

The mid-week continuation as promised. As written, unchanged or revised in 120 years.

Coinage Act of September 26, 1890

Section 3510: The engraver shall prepare from the original dies already authorized all the working dies required for use in coinage of the several mints, and, when new coins, emblems, devices, legends or designs are authorized, shall, if requested by the director of the mint, prepare the devices, models, hubs, or original dies for the same. The director of the mint shall have power, with the approval of the treasury, to cause new designs or models of authorized emblems or devices to be prepared and adopted in the same manner as when new coins or devices are authorized. But no change in design or device of any coin shall be made oftener than once in twenty-five years of the first adoption of the design, model, die or hub for the same coin, and provide further, that nothing in this section shall prevent the adoption of new designs or models for new designs or models for devices or emblems already authorized for the standard silver dollar and five-cent nickel piece as soon as practical after the passage of this act. But the Director of the mint shall nevertheless have power, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, to engage temporarily for this purpose the service of one or more artists, distinguished in their respective departments of art, who shall be paid for such service from the contingent appropriation for the mint at Philadelphia.

In a nut shell, the Director and Treasury Secretary may, by law, change a coins design without Congressional approval. The greatest hurdle being the reverse changes and the obverse of the Jefferson nickel. Which leaves only the dime and half dollar. However, technically, the Washington quarter has been changed repeatedly over twenty consecutive years.So a complete change, obverse and reverse,is not without question. Should we ever see either take a stand and invoke the Mint Act of 1890, there is sure to be a lengthy legal battle.

The photo is that of Secretary Steve Mnuchin swearing in the 39th Mint Director, David J Ryder.



Level 5

It is human nature to abhor change, with the exception of Numismatists. I find that like most of you I find myself frustrated with the lack of new, exciting designs on our everyday coinage. Not sure if cost of changing is a factor, or just lack of imagination. Anyway, thanks for the knowledge Long beard. Later!


Level 5

Very informative. I'm ready for some new designs. It may even generate some new collectors.


Level 6

I don't care how they do it, I just want some fresh designs. The only current coin I would not want changed is the Lincoln Cent.

I think the government would decide that they don't have to do anything they wouldn't like to. We can dream though.


Level 6

I agree with I.R. Bama, What about the 25 year law? Thanks.


Level 7

Now it's a design submitted to CCAC approved sent to congress. Two years later you have a coin for as long as they like. Things change. That blog was excellent. Thanks for it.


Level 5

Anything goes now. They change coins every year.

I. R. Bama

Level 5

Ummmm so what about the 25 year rule? I'm thinking Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln reverse designs... Doesn't that violate the 25 year rule?

Long Beard

Level 5

Absolutely. Multiple times, not including all those quarters. "But no change in design or device....". The law, as written, was never revised or modified in any manner. Yet Congress and the Treasury Department approved on each occasion.

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