By Lianna Spurrier for CoinWeek …..
All of us make errors – the U.S. Mint included. Over the years the Mint has launched a number of cash with design flaws that prompted outrage, confusion, and flat-out rejection.
We’ve all heard how public upset led to the removing of “VDB” from the again of the wheat penny and the overlaying of Woman Liberty’s breast on the Standing Liberty quarters. Did the plenty actually care that a lot about their coinage? Was there actually sufficient pushback that widespread opinion necessitated these modifications?
Defend Nickel Rays
The defend nickel was launched in 1866 with a circle of 13 stars on the reverse that had rays between them. In early 1867, these rays have been eliminated.
It’s extensively recognized that the defend nickel collection as an entire proved to be very troublesome to strike. The Mint hadn’t labored with nickel very a lot and it’s a more durable materials than copper or silver, making the dies liable to crack and have a brief lifespan.
The rays on the reverse have been a part of the drawback. There was little area between every ray and its neighboring stars, making it a very problematic a part of the coin. They have been eliminated partially to assist the dies last more.
However there have been different causes. The design as an entire was extensively criticized; Joseph Wharton famously likened it to a tombstone, and an 1866 Letter to the Editor revealed in the American Journal of Numismatics asserted that “[t]he motto ‘In God We Trust,’ is very opportune, for the inventor [sic] of this coin may rest assured that the devil will never forgive him for such an abortion.”
Probably the most controversial offense, nevertheless, was on the reverse. The rays reminded a few of the Accomplice flags from the Civil Struggle, indicating Southern sympathies. Whereas seemingly not a particularly widespread grievance, this will have had one thing to do with the removing of the rays as nicely.
VDB Wheat Pennies
The discharge of the Lincoln cent in 1909, designed by Victor David Brenner, was extremely anticipated. It was the first circulating US coin to function a portrait of a historic determine, and there was such excessive demand that the Mint needed to restrict what number of a person might buy. They have been launched on August 2, and the complaints began rolling in solely a pair days later.
On August four, the Middletown Day by day Argus of Middletown, New York, revealed a quick article entitled “Lincoln Coins Faulty”:
“The new Lincoln cent has been only one day in circulation and already it is declared that a serious blunder was made by the Mint authorities and that a new die may have to be made to eliminate the objectionable feature.”
The initials “VDB”, on the backside reverse of the coin, have been seen as too daring and made many consider Brenner as immodest. As well as, in accordance with the Des Moines Information, some individuals mistook the initials for the trademark of an underwear model – BVD.
Franklin MacVeagh, Secretary of the Treasury, responded promptly. Over the subsequent few days, a number of choices have been thought-about: eradicating the initials altogether, leaving them be, or changing them with solely a “B”. Finally, they have been eliminated completely, till discovering a brand new residence beneath Lincoln’s shoulder in 1918.
Numismatists of the day anticipated that the VDB varieties would develop into scarce and commenced saving them as quickly as the change was introduced, leading to many high-grade specimens obtainable in the present day.
Brenner was none too pleased about the removing of his initials. He initially included his full final identify on the design, however it was decreased earlier than minting started. In a letter to The Numismatist on August 23, Brenner stated:
“It is mighty hard for me to express my sentiments with reference to the initials on the cent. The name of the artist on a coin is essential for the student of history as it enables him to trace environments and conditions of the time said coin was produced.”
There was already precedent to put his initials on the coin. Actually, the solely different circulating cash at the time with no designer’s initials have been the nickel and the $10 gold piece. Regardless, the controversy relating to his initials might very nicely have made him certainly one of the extra well-known designers of a US coin, particularly contemplating that the wheat penny is the solely circulating coin he created.
Sort 1 & 2 Standing Liberty Quarters
One other extensively recognized design change was the overlaying of Woman Liberty’s breast on the Sort 2 Standing Liberty quarter in 1917. The widespread perception is that a public outcry of conservatives drove this variation, however there have been no such complaints.
The change was truly a results of individuals inside the Mint. Hermon A. MacNeil designed the Standing Liberty quarter in 1916. Between the approval of his designs and the starting of manufacturing in December, a number of modifications have been made with out MacNeil’s approval; the eagle on the reverse was lowered, a pair of dolphins initially on the obverse was eliminated, and different small modifications have been made. His design was altered partially as a result of the unique design was in excessive aid, which the Mint was not able to producing. Already having hassle with the new Mercury dimes and Strolling Liberty half dollars, they hoped to keep away from comparable points with the quarter and tackle them earlier than manufacturing started.
At first, the new cash have been obtainable solely to officers and outstanding numismatists (out of a worry of hoarding), and MacNeil needed to request a pattern. Beforehand unaware of the design modifications, he was outraged by the modifications and insisted that the new cash not be launched to the public. They have been held till January 17, 1917, when the already minted items have been put into circulation.
Nevertheless, MacNeil acquired his want. He was allowed to vary the design in order that he discovered it acceptable, and this was the place the Sort 2 design got here in. The unique intention was to go away Liberty’s breast naked and mix two beforehand produced obverses, however minting know-how at the time was incapable of doing so. In consequence, MacNeil needed to completely reengrave the obverse. He accomplished this in mid-February and selected to offer Woman Liberty a sequence mail shirt, thus overlaying the uncovered breast.
So why the change? There are a number of theories, however no definitive data. It might have merely been a private selection of MacNeil’s, like different works he produced throughout that point, corresponding to the statue Mental Improvement, additionally function extra coated females. Nevertheless, Ron Guth and Jeff Garrett assert in United States Coinage: A Research by Sort that MacNeil didn’t have a say on this design change.
David Lange suggests the Treasury Division might have performed an element in the addition of chain mail, and Ray Younger, in an article for Cash, believes it might have been a symbolic change.
As tensions with Germany grew and the lead-up to World Struggle I started, the chain mail might have been added to point out Woman Liberty as extra ready to defend herself in conflict. No matter the purpose really was, there’s no proof of any public outrage at the uncovered breast.
Susan B. Anthony Dollars
In one in every of the newer design flops, the Mint avidly marketed the Susan B. Anthony greenback previous to its launch. They even distributed folders of promotional supplies to banks and companies, together with pattern advertisements and comics, strategies for occasions, and diagrams of methods to rearrange money register drawers to permit area for the new cash.
These supplies touted the coin’s advantages, claiming it will be “easy to see it is a woman”; “easy to see the unique 11-sided inner border on both sides”; and “easy to distinguish by size”.
The decision? Not a lot. In 1988, the Colorado Springs Gazette quoted Michael Brown, Spokesman for the United States Mint, as saying, “I suppose there may have been other disasters like this in the history of our nation’s currency, but never anything this bad. Never rejection by the public that is this complete.”
The Susan B. Anthony greenback solely circulated for 2 years earlier than manufacturing was halted because of public rejection. The most typical purpose for such dislike was that it was so simply confused with 1 / 4. Opposite to what the Mint’s advertising supplies instructed, there was not a big sufficient distinction in measurement between it and the quarter to make it simply distinguishable.
There have been additionally critiques of the design.
Most cash have some correlation between the obverse and reverse designs, however the Susan B. Anthony made no such try. Only a few connections might be discovered between Anthony, a ladies’s rights activist, and the symbolic moon touchdown depicted on the reverse. Disconnection apart, there has additionally been hypothesis that some seen it as feminist propaganda.
It definitely can’t have helped something that the designer, Frank Gasparro, had no concept what Anthony seemed like and will solely find two pictures on which to base his design. Nonetheless, in accordance with an article from the Chicago Tribune in 1988, the widespread rejection of the coin harm his emotions.
There have been concepts to attempt to revive the coin. Stella Sims, Director of the Mint, allegedly thought-about making modifications, akin to placing a gap in the coin or altering the colour to a brassy yellow to make it simpler to differentiate. However nothing got here of those concepts till the launch of the gold-colored Sacagawea greenback in 2000.
Whereas all of those designs are chronicled in any sort e-book, the tales behind them will not be. In trendy society, it’s arduous to think about that there was really an outcry about initials on a penny, however not an uncovered breast.
It also needs to be famous that that is not at all an exhaustive listing. For instance, between the Sort 1 and Sort 2 buffalo nickels, the floor on the reverse needed to be filed down in order that the denomination wouldn’t put on off of the coin so shortly. In fact, coinage of the early 1800s options many errors, comparable to anyplace from 12 to 15 stars on assorted cash. The 1801 three errors giant cent is one other gem of a mistake, however these early slip-ups are extra generally resulting from errors when making the dies, not explicitly poor selections.
These 4, nevertheless, appear to have been the worst errors. The designs have been accepted as they have been, no points observed till the public responded. They have been acutely aware decisions made by the Mint, decisions they in all probability wished they might have taken again.