CoinHunter's Blog

21 Dec 2020

Two-Cent Pieces

Coins | CoinHunter

Hi! Today my blog is going to be about two-cent pieces. So let's begin. During the 19th century several denominations that didn't fit our decimal system were tried. These were the 2-cent, 3-cent, 20-cent, and $4 Stella denominations. None of these experiments survived. The concept of a 2-cent coin actually dates from 1806. In that year Congress failed to pass legislation introducing the denomination after Mint Director Robert Patterson sent a brass button with two of the billion composition blanks for the proposed coins too Rep. Uri Tracy (Dem., NY), the primary sponsor for the bill, to demonstrate how easy it was to substitute a button for the proposed coin. Tracy got the message.A provision to the Mint bill which would have introduced the denomination was dropped from the bill in 1836. Since it took some time before it was decided the proposed 2-cent coin clause would be dropped, Mint employees Christian Gobrecht and Franklin Peale produced patterns during this time. Gobrecht and Peale concluded from their experiments they could not produce a coin which would not necessarily be confused with a button.In a Dec. 8, 1863 letter from Mint Director James Pollock to Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase the Mint director recommended a 2-cent coin be introduced in what was called "French bronze," the metal composition in which the new small cent was initially struck.Congress had failed to pass a provision twice through which a 2-cent coin could be produced. Chase liked the idea and ensured it would be included in new legislation before Congress. The proposal was included in the Mint Bill passed April 22, 1864 by Congress. A new coin denomination was born. The new 2-cent coin was the first to bear the familiar US coin motto "In God We Trust." The original Pollock proposal included a coin with the motto "God Our Trust." This was altered by Chase, likely because Brown University, from which Chase graduated, uses the motto "In Deo Speramus" or "In God we Hope."The denomination was not a success and was only struck between 1963 (patterns in 1863, circulating coins beginning in 1864) and 1873. Prototype patterns dated 1863 and early 1864 Proofs were struck with a small letter legend. The first business strikes of 1864 were produced from dies made from the same Small Letter variety hub. A new hub with the well known Large Letter variety obverse legend was used to make the dies for the majority of the coins of 1864 and for all coins of this denomination struck through 1873. It was Mint Engraver James Barton Longacre who designed the 2-cent coin.Initially it looked like the 2-cent denomination had been accepted by the public and was about to successfully circulate. It was later determined the only reason the public accepted the coin was the chronic shortage of coins experienced during the Civil War. Once the war ended and regular coinage began to appear again in circulation demand for the 2-cent coin dropped off the end of the earth. Thanks for reading my blog and happy holidays!Source-PCGS CoinFacts

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