Why do coins have dates?

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by hotwheelsearl, Jul 12, 2016.

  1. Santinidollar

    Santinidollar Supporter! Supporter

    Frankly, why does there have to be rationale for it? Seriously. To flip the question, what would be the rationale for not doing it?
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  3. oval_man

    oval_man Elliptical member

    Well, the argument against doing it was in the OP: to save money on dies.

    What really interests me about this question of dates on coinage is that it begins to expose how antiquated coins and cash in general will seem in the very near future.

    I can't imagine anyone in my childhood (the '60s) questioning the existence of a date on a coin. Coins simply had dates; it was part of our analog reckoning of time. But as we become more fully digital as a society, it is inevitable that people such as the OP begin to question our traditions. Not long from now the idea of exchanging a few dirty pieces of paper and small discs of metal—with tiny pictures and slogans on them, fashioned from little sculpted dies—for some desired purchase will seem humorously quaint.

    Coins will go the way of George Washington's wooden dentures.
    hotwheelsearl likes this.
  4. old49er

    old49er Well-Known Member

    I's just history and accountability. You only need a certain amount for circulation. Dating the coins, you can see the wear and expected lifetime in normal circulation
  5. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    One of the better answers I have found for the use of dates is to declare certain dates worthless.
    For example, paper money had those special stamps for Japanese invasion ir whatever it was, so that if these certain notes fell into enemy hands they could be declared worthless.
    Similarly, if the country was taken over or something, the government could declare all coins up to this year invalid, and immediately release a new date that could be used.
  6. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    When's the last time you actually used coins? That's a good point. It's easier to carry a card than a bag full of jingling metal pieces.
    I did a debate in high school once where my winning argument in opposition of ending physical money altogether was the issue of iconoclasm.
    I said that the designs and pictures on our money define who we are as a people, and as a culture. It's one kind of fine art that people come into contact with every single day.
    Without these bits of art, we would lose a little bit of what makes us, us.
  7. oval_man

    oval_man Elliptical member

    That's really interesting (and I think you mean iconography. Iconoclasm means to destroy imagery).

    There is also the argument that the feel of a coin in one's pocket is a tactile pleasure similar to reading an actual book as opposed to an e-reader.

    However, given that it's inevitable that digital transactions will displace tangible cash, I think the symbolism you speak of, which I agree is important to national and cultural identity, will necessarily shift to other vehicles. But what will these vehicles be?
    hotwheelsearl likes this.
  8. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    If you really think about it, there are a lot of things about US coinage that you can question:

    Why do coins still have ridges when they are now made out of base metals that no one would bother to shave off as they are not worth much of anything, and would not be practical to shave off due to the hardness of base metals vs silver/gold?

    Why is the dime still smaller than the nickel? It no longer makes sense now that the dime is made of base metals like the nickels.

    Why do we still have clad copper rings around the edges of the modern coins? With hardly any silver coin still in circulation, it no longer makes sense. I doubt most Americans even know about pre-65 coins anyway, or the composition of current coins, and probably don't care anyway.

    Why do we even bother to mint dollar coins and not withdraw the dollar bills from circulation? It's an exercise in futility, isn't it?

    Why do we make coins, or print money in this digital age? And if we must do so, why make the penny and the $2 bill when it's a waste of money?

    I could go on and on, but why bother? Coins have dates because they do. Period! We could sit here pondering the use of having dates, it won't change a thing. Just like we could sit here pondering all those other things I mentioned, and many more.
    joecoincollect and Hommer like this.
  9. Pap4tinker

    Pap4tinker Active Member

    I'll throw my thought in the hat, purely speculation. Maybe the kings of old wanted everyone to know when they ruled. And now its tradition to date coins.
    Coinlover67 and joecoincollect like this.
  10. brandon spiegel

    brandon spiegel Brandon Spiegel

    I did not know that, thank you for the knowledge!
    Sallent likes this.
  11. oval_man

    oval_man Elliptical member

    I believe I read once that some coins have ridges to help distinguish them from a potato.

    Seriously, I like all your observations except for your last paragraph. Why are you getting fatalistic on us? This is Coin Chat, not The End of The World.
    Sallent likes this.
  12. Vroomer2

    Vroomer2 Active Member

    Did you want a coin collector answer or a numismatist answer? I can swing both ways on this one.

  13. noname

    noname Well-Known Member

    How would collectors feel? It'll make it hell of a lot more difficult for future collectors to collect US coins without dates.
  14. Coinlover67

    Coinlover67 Well-Known Member

    Very good question, but I have a question too. Why does Modern coinage have only circles, and not squares or even triangles?
  15. Hommer

    Hommer Curator of Semi Precious Coinage

    Most denominations sizes and reeding remain for the visually impaired and because of the coin-op industry. Why do cars have dates?
  16. Clawcoins

    Clawcoins Well-Known Member

    When debit cards first came out I started using it for most purchases.
    but with the advent and spread of fraud, etc even with the new chip cards,
    I've gone back to using cash for most purchases. I use some store cards to the places I'm at 90% of the time but pay those off directly from other accts.

    So until they prove no more fraud, etc I'll still be using cash a lot.

    There are so many people around here that also just use cash.

    Everything nowadays (and past ) has some sort of serial number / date of manufacturer / date for use. Why would coins be different ?
  17. CoinZone

    CoinZone Active Member

    The real question is why do dates have coins on them. Hmmm
  18. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    For the same reason it always did, because there must be accountability. And you can't have that without dates on the coins. And no it doesn't matter that the coins are no longer made of precious metals. They still produced nearly a billion dollars worth of coins (face value) in 2014. That's a lot to be accountable for.
    brandon spiegel and slackaction1 like this.
  19. oval_man

    oval_man Elliptical member

    Yeah, accountability probably sums it up. And it would have to be annual for fiscal budgets.
  20. oval_man

    oval_man Elliptical member

    The risk of fraud is going to permeate all aspects of our digital world going forward and will remain a huge challenge, but I don't think it's going to slow the conversion of our analog society to digital. When bank transactions—national and international—can be made in seconds using a few account numbers, how will governments and banks justify hauling around truckloads of cash? How will it be profitable for banks to staff their branches with tellers who tediously "make change"? How will grocery stores? All these jobs are mindless as it is and incredibly inefficient; as soon as they can be replaced, businesses will do it.

    The "inertia" of using cash is a different matter but this will also change as our population skews younger.
  21. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    At the time the law was passed our coins were still made of gold and silver and there was still a need for the accountability provided by the use of dates and mintmarks. Today they are not needed but remain because one the law has never been repealed, and two simple tradition.

    Since dies wear out and have to be replaced anyway the only saving on die expense would be for the new creation of a single master hub for each denomination each year. Well a few more now because they now create a master hub for each denomination for each mint. So call it 16 hubs a year. Total savings about $5,000. And the master hubs wear out too so they'd have to be replaced about every 5 years so you would save maybe $20K over each 5 year period. BUT! They are always working/tweaking relief and other features to improve striking qualities, so most likely that master hub would still be changed at least every year or two. So your savings drops back down to the $5K to $10 range over each five year period.

    So in any case there really isn't any great savings from not changing the date each year.

    Now lets consider something else. Without that yearly date change you can kiss goodby the annual sales of mint and proof sets. After all why buy a set each year when you can't tell one years set from another? The income loss from that will GREATLY exceed any savings from not having to make newly dated master hubs each year.
    slackaction1 and oval_man like this.
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