Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by hotwheelsearl, Jul 12, 2016.
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not to be used beyond that year unless you need the money.
"there doesn't seem to be a pressing need" Har-har
Seriously, I really like your question and don't think it's stupid at all.
Were dates included on US coins for the same reason(s) in 1794 as they are now? I can imagine a sense of pride in commemorating a country's early beginnings by dating its coinage. But foreign countries much older than ours have consistently had dated coinage. Is it primarily a matter of tradition?
Maybe there's always been a fiscal reason for including dates: the mint needing to track how many new coins were needed to replace those lost to damage and wear in circulation.
At any rate, certainly the US Mint realized at some point that minting dated sets would bring in revenue from collectors.
All just speculation; maybe someone can correct me. Personally, not only do dates seem antiquated, but certainly the cent and maybe the nickel as well and, eventually, cash in general will be antiquated as all transactions become digital.
(Btw, I read through the older thread on this topic and found interesting info and opinions but no clear answers, particularly to why there would need to be dates for every year of production. Certainly I can understand a date to acknowledge a design or metal composition change—but then again would anyone but collectors even care about these?)
Some ancient coins do have "dates" of sort on them. For example, Caracala loved to put dates on his coins. The XX on the reverse dates this to the 20th and last year of his reign, so we can narrow the strike date for this coin to a few months in the year 217 CE.
While others, you'd be lucky to narrow to a few decades or centuries, like this Islamic issue of the Almohads. It would have been minted sometime in a hundred year period between the 12th and 13th century.
I've seen some ancient coins that can be dated almost precisely to the month they were struck, and others where all we know for sure is that it could have been minted any time within a 300 year time span.
I've got one with a triangle hole.
I appreciate your answer in that thread, along with some comments by others, that give some historical background for dates on coins. But these answers don't really address our more contemporary situation. Why does more recent coinage—say, US coinage since the advent of the Industrial Revolution or the 20th Century—need to have dates? As the OP asked, why go through the expense of changing dies on each denomination every year to reflect a new date?
Your answer that "our law requires it" doesn't really address the underlying reasons or needs of such a law in the first place.
I'll speculate again that the mint, er, "updates" its coinage 1), because new dies are, relatively speaking, not that expensive to create, 2), because it helps them to monitor production and loss and 3), largely due to inertia (or "tradition").
Yeah, but it explains why it's done, which I believe was the original question.
So then the question becomes, "Why does our law stipulate that coinage must be dated?"
The real, and interesting, question is one of rationale, not formality.
The founding fathers wanted to create a chronological existence? And perpetuate it?
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