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Monday, May 16, 2011

This day in History: 5/16- Birth of the Nickel

~ 1866 Nickel

Many interesting and historically important events occurred on this day in history, May 16th.  For instance in 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte is declared Leader of France by the Senate and Tribune, and in 1920, Joan of Arc is canonized.  In addition, US President Andrew Johnson avoids being narrowly impeached by a corrupt Radical Republican Senate in 1868, Food Stamps are first issued in 1939, and the US postage stamp is raised to eight cents on this day in 1971.

But one event occurred today in 1866, which I found interesting-- Congress authorizes nickel 5 cents piece which eventually replaces the silver half-dime by 1873.  

~ 1803 half-dime

From Wikipedia:  "The half dime, or half disme, was a silver coin, valued at five cents, formerly minted in the United States. The denomination was one of the original coins first authorized in 1792, and production began in February 1795. These coins were much smaller than dimes in diameter and thickness, appearing to be "half dimes"."

"In the 1860s, powerful nickel interests successfully lobbied for the creation of new coins, which would be made of a copper-nickel alloy; production of such coins began in 1865, and were struck in two denominations — three and five cents (the latter introduced in 1866). The introduction of the copper-nickel five-cent pieces made the silver coins of the same denomination redundant, and they were discontinued in 1873."

~ So in a way, over time nothing changes.  Currency is devalued and powerful 'interests' dictate governmental and fiscal policy.  The real difference is back then a nickel would get you the daily newspaper for 5 days or five stamps, and in 2011, its not enough to cover sales tax on a dollar purchase.

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