Coin Lore column from July 20, 2015, issue of Coin World:
What the country needs is a good 2½-cent piece, Mint Director Robert Wickliffe Wooley
essentially declared in the 1916 Annual Report of the Director of
Wooley in 1916 oversaw the introduction of three remarkable coins —
the Winged Liberty Head dime, Standing Liberty quarter dollar and
Walking Liberty half dollar.
In the report released to the public Nov. 30, 1916, he wrote, “I beg
to suggest the advisability of recommending to Congress the passage of
an act authorizing the coinage of a copper and nickel 2 ½-cent piece.
Inquiry, prompted by requests contained in letters from many parts of
the country, discloses a real demand for it. When you consider that we
have no coin between the 1-cent piece and the 5-cent piece and that
many an article worth more than a cent and less than 5 cents sells for
the latter price because of the lack of an intermediate monetary unit
of value, the economic importance of it will be readily seen.
“Articles which now sell for 15 cents each or two for a quarter
would sell for 12 ½ cents. Popular shops, such as the 5 and 10 cent
stores, would undoubtedly place articles now selling two for 5 cents
on sale at 2 ½ cents each; and it is not at all unlikely that street
car companies would carry children of school age for 2 ½ cents.”
A few days later, the
Post-Gazette discussed the possibility of such a coin in a
Dec. 10, 1916, front-page article about proposals to coin 2-cent and
3-cent pieces, as well.
The newspaper reported: “The need for new denominations is also
indicated by the fact that in certain sections of the country
merchants will give the customer a brass or pasteboard check in change
which is good for ½ or 2 ½ cents. In New Orleans such practice is
common and even though the law does not provide, the people have made
coins themselves, which are called ‘quarties.’ In the New England
states these personal coins have also been observed in circulation and
even in Pittsburgh, where it is asserted that certain dispensers of
‘wet goods’ have long handed out a 2 ½ cent check when 15 cents was
passed over the bar for a two-for-a-quarter drink.”
Token collectors are familiar with the odd denomination. Taylor’s
Hotel in Wissahickon, Pa., even issued a 2½-cent token that bears a
passing resemblance to a Barber coin.
Researchers have cataloged an extensive run of U.S. Mint pattern
1916 dimes, quarter dollars and half dollars, but no 2½-cent pieces.
The new Mint director, Raymond T. Baker, made no mention of the
proposed denomination in his 1917 annual report.
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