Was there much public outcry against the horrible "copper sandwich" coins in 1965?

As is generally known, U.S. silver coins, for practical purposes only the dime and quarter, were changed to a cupro-nickel alloy with the 1965 issue. There was nothing hugely unusual about this; in many other countries this step had already been taken while we had forestalled it longer by dint of our then enormous gold reserve and our then equally enormous trade trade surplus. In addition, a spike in the price of silver was beginning to result in a coin shortage which must have been significant when so many things like a magazine, haircut, or pack of smokes could still be bought for $.50 or less.

But the metal content is horrible! The white-metal front and back of the coins, which is actually 75% copper and 25% nickel, tarnishes to a dull greyish color, and the red copper rim is, in my opinion, the first step in our headlong journey into the bizarre and ridiculous when it comes to the tiny details of our daily lives. I understand it was done that way to ensure that the coins would have reasonably close electrical conductivity to the old ones. It makes some sense, since copper is as almost as good a conductor as silver. In other countries, ferrous metal alloys seem to have been chosen that were often magnetic. If other countries could adjust to magnetic coins, particularly in the area of vending machines, why couldn’t we have done that? Apart from the loss of the silver, did anyone object to how ugly the new composition was? Did the vending machine or armored transport industry refuse to deal with any other possible alloy?

As time has gone on, and other countries have changed their coins, ditched their unit notes, and got with the times, we have stuck slavishly to the old system. I imagine the following co?nversation between a Canadian and an American:

Canadian: Your coins are so ugly.
American: Your coins are magnetic. Like they’re not real.
Canadian: But at least I don’t need twenty coins to buy a beer.

Do you have a cite for this assertion re conductivity matching? I can’t think of any vending machine parameter that checks the electrical conductivity of coins, or any function of coins period that involves meeting conductivity parameters…

I was about 8 at the time, but I do remember my parents going through their change and putting the silver ones in a container. A separate container had wheat ear pennies in it.

I seem to recall reading some kind of nutty tirade about the switch, wherein there were claims about it being a Satanic plot (silver being a ‘pure’ metal [since it killed werewolves and vampires and the like] and copper and nickel are somehow ‘base’) that would render our currency worthless and damn us all to Hell. No idea of when it was written, however (I was born in '68), and it might very well have been a satire.

All of them do, albeit indirectly. They use magnetic induction much like a typical beachcomber’s metal detector which applies a time-varying electromagnetic field at a particular frequency to the coin under test and measures the resulting induced electric field. The strength of this field is directly related to the electrical conductivity of the coin.

Same same for me.

I was a kid when it happened, but all I remember is some whining about change, as Americans are wont to do. Not a big deal, not a conspiracy theorist’s Central Theme, just one more indication of “progress”, said with a resigned shrug.

I don’t recall this – I think that people just didn’t like their suilver being adulterated. Which is ridiculous, since coin silver isn’t pure to begin with – it’s got copper mixed in for strength (I recall this being a plot point in an old Lone Ranger TV show – someone was trying to cast doubt on the Lone Ranger by casting bullets from coins. But the Lone Ranger proved the bullets weren’t his – he used pure silver in his bulets.

And, in any case, bullets don’t do anything to vampires, unless made into a cross or a mirror. From **Love at First Bite[/B};

Van Helsing (Richard Benjamin) fires a silver bullet at Dracula

Dracula (George Hamilton): No, no. You use silver bukllets on werewolves!

Van Helsing: Are you sure?

(Although one of my old Famous Monsters of Filmland claimed that a silver bullet fired into a vampire’s coffin would keep him from using it. I have no idea where they got that from.)

Finally, the idea that cladding baser metal by precious metal isn’t new and has long been distrusted. Originally, the entire [io]point* of coins , after all, was that they represented a certain weight of pure metal, and the state essentially certified the purity and weight. I’ve read that Henry VIII “debased” his currency by cladding copper cores with silver exteriors, but that as the coins wore down the copper showed through. Since the nose of the sovereign was the highest point, and wore down first, Henry got the nickname :Coppernose":


As a collector, I hate them. Most are only worth face value, even after 40 years. Coins with silver content have increased in value recently, and I’ve unloaded a lot of what I had. My last sale was for 27 circulated Canadian quarters (pre-1968) that were .80 silver, and they netted $40.

People complained because they thought would not trip vending machine levers. They are much lighter. But that quickly died. It was no big outcry.

Actually the big reason for the withdrawal of silver coins: lyndon Johnson needed money to finance his idiotic vietnam war. The treasury realized a profit on the silver, and johnson got a few billion$ extra to blow on his pet project.

Silver dimes and quarters tarnished to a “dull greyish color” a heckuva lot faster than the cupro-nickel clad coins.

I was a teenager and small-time coin collector when the switch was made. As Spectre mentioned, the price of silver was already increasing to the point where the metal content of dimes and quarters (and half dollars, which were still being made at the time) was making them more valuable as scrap than as coins.

And of course there were people who thought the new coins were ugly. There’s never been an American coin introduced that someone didn’t think was ugly.

I was 10, and I remember it, and yes, people thought they were ugly. The perception of ugliness wasn’t mainly the difference in the silver color, it was the existence of the sandwich part. And since people knew the change was done to make use of cheaper metal, that feeling translated into “this coin is cheap, I don’t like it.”

And yes, people did hoard the silver ones for a while.

They still do.

I don’t recall any outcry other than a bemoaning the fact that the coins were no longer has an intrinsic value. I also don’t remember anyone commenting on the coins being ugly (and I don’t see how they are). They were just different.

Cite? I find this extremely unlikely to be even remotely accurate.

When i saw the thread title, i envisioned a policeman jammed between two pieces of bread.

Carry on.

It fit in with the well-used Bankers are Bleeding America Dry and Getting Ready to Enslave Us All conspiracy, for which it was just one more concrete example. My Dad could go on for hours. I have to assume that it was decried in the regular newsletters.

We did that too, and I still have a little leather bag silver coins. There used to be $98 in face value, but years later my older brother admitted to pilfering.

Well, silver does tarnish, but, being silver it still retains some luster. And, suprisingly, the designs seem to remain clearer and better defined.

Until just a few years before, the silver content of the silver was worth a lot less than their face value, so they were for the most part “fiat coins” as well. This was one of the factors in the free silver debate of the 19th century; the free silverites wanted uncoined silver to be accepted by the Government at its value by weight, as needed for minting quarters and dollars. On the open market silver was worth a lot less than that, so such a policy was considered inflationary.