How coins were distributed in 1845

RogerBRogerB Posts: 5,980 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited November 10, 2018 2:35PM in U.S. Coin Forum

It's little wonder that U.S. coins were haphazardly available in pre-Civil War America. Here's a letter explaining the process.

"Mint of the United States
September 2, 1845

Hon. R. J. Walker
Secretary of the Treasury

Sir,
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 29th ult.

The question of the means of distributing the small silver coins, which you have providentially caused to be prepared for circulation, has frequently occupied my thoughts.

The regular and usual method of obtaining coins form the Mint is by the deposit of an equivalent in bullion of the same kind – gold or silver – foreign coins being always received by us as bullion. This method, however, might not be sufficient for putting our present supply of small coins in circulation, within the time that you have probably had in contemplation.

I have, in one instance, authorized the exchange of a few thousand dollars of dimes and half-dimes for new half-dollars, and it might perhaps not be an objectionable measure to allow such exchanges, for either gold or silver U.S. coins, of date not earlier than 1837 (when the standards were changed), and not reduced or defaced by wear: the amount, however, never to be less than $100.

But perhaps of all the means proposed, that suggested by Mr. Dunlap is the most eligible; names to give to Deposit Banks, in those places where small coins are needed, drafts on the Mint, payable in those coins. I must beg, however, that, in such case, they be made payable at the Mint; for we have not the means of transferring our funds.

I think there can be no doubt that the Valley of the Mississippi is already abundantly supplied with dimes and half-dimes. In Philadelphia they are plenty, and I am assured that this is also the case in New York. It is probably in the Eastern States that they are most needed.

We have now, I the Treasurer’s Vault, $162,470 in dimes, and $75,990 in half-dimes; or 1,624,700 pieces of the former, and 1,579,800 of the latter.

Very respectfully
Your faithful servant,
R. M. Patterson, Director"

[RG104 E-216 Vol 07. This complete correspondence volume is available free from NNP]

Comments

  • coinhackcoinhack Posts: 736 ✭✭✭

    Thanks, as always, Roger for the research and information that you freely share.

  • SmudgeSmudge Posts: 2,704 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thank you.

  • Timbuk3Timbuk3 Posts: 8,334 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Interesting information, thank you for your research and sharing it !!! :)

    Timbuk3
  • fastfreddiefastfreddie Posts: 1,843 ✭✭✭

    Thank you! Another neat historical read.

    So only dimes and half-dimes were considered 'small silver change' in 1845?

    "It's not that life is short but that you're dead for so long"
  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 25,544 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @fastfreddie said:
    Thank you! Another neat historical read.

    So only dimes and half-dimes were considered 'small silver change' in 1845?

    By size, yes.

    If you are privileged to live in a country, a state, a county or a town that allows you to vote, THEN VOTE! While you still can!
  • Thanks RogerB!

    This quote is interesting. “It is probably in the Eastern States that they are most needed.”

    Where were the coins being minted and which Eastern States?

  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 5,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Small silver coins were made at New Orleans and Philadelphia. In the Mississippi watershed, almost all specie found its way to or from New Orleans. Banks routinely supplied Mexican pesos for silver bullion and that resulted in wide distribution along the river and nearby communities.

    Philadelphia supplied small silver to the rest of the nation, but most silver bullion coins came from Boston and New York via international trade, and then flowed back to those areas. Philadelphia and south along the Atlantic coast and inland to the Appalachians had limited silver to deposit and therefore could only receive limited quantities of small change in payment. The southernmost bank making routine silver deposits was Girard Bank in Philadelphia. Banks in Baltimore and Washington couldn't deposit enough silver to return sufficient coins to local circulation.

    Exchange of new U. S. silver coins was of little help - the organization making the request had to acquire the new coins by deposit in the first place.

    Prior to Jackson's killing the Bank of the United States, the bank made considerable effort to make large silver and gold deposits, then supply the coins to other banks and merchants - a little like the Federal Reserve System distributes coins and paper currency today. Bank of New York, Girard, Bank of America and some others also gave the Philadelphia mint 30 to 60 days to deliver coins from their deposits, and this helped the mint in its attempts to produce a uniform flow of coinage work.

    OK...that's enough boring stuff for now.

  • RogerB, not boring. I find that it is somewhat difficult to compare and contrast how things were back then to now; and I try to think of what it would be like.

    Over 160 years of change.

    Learning history helps to promote the positives and lose the negatives. Hopefully....

    Look forward to yours and many others’ post on numimastic lore.

  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 5,980 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 11, 2018 3:30PM

    The part of the country with very limited small change, or American coinage at all, was the deep south - roughly from Norfolk, VA south to the tip of Florida, and west to about 50 miles from the Mississippi. This huge area was broken into semi-independent, almost feudal plantations built on slave labor and largely illiterate field bosses and workmen. Isolation forced plantation independence and it was only when harvests were sold that much money moved from village to village. Owners sold for gold and goods largely from England and New England. There was far more British coin than American in plantation coffers. This part of the south had few real cities (Vicksburg had only 6,500 residents, Atlanta 9,500) and none on the scale of Baltimore except New Orleans.

    The New Orleans Mint tried to push coins into circulation, but only succeeded along the river and a small part of the Gulf coast. Silver coins were much prized - but not for what they could buy, but for the silverware into which they could be made. Jeweler and silversmith ads promoted their products as being "made from genuine silver dollars."

  • OldIndianNutKaseOldIndianNutKase Posts: 1,802 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Roger,

    Perhaps you can provide perspective on the First Bank regarding President Jackson's killing of the First Bank........

    "Prior to Jackson's killing the Bank of the United States, the bank made considerable effort to make large silver and gold deposits, then supply the coins to other banks and merchants - a little like the Federal Reserve System distributes coins and paper currency today........"

    Question being that was the First Bank a branch of our Federal Government or just another central bank scheme like we have to today with the Fed?

    OINK

  • oih82w8oih82w8 Posts: 7,997 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I find it very interesting to read the way that people used to converse "back in the day". Thank you, @RogerB !

    oih82w8 = Oh I Hate To Wait _defectus patientia_



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  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 5,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Very nice summary, Ronyahski ! (And not a single pun about "Pet Smart Banks" either.)

  • rickoricko Posts: 61,636 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Nice summary of bank history... Jefferson hated the big banks...and indeed, even today we have seen how the manipulation/control of currency is critical to a nation. Cheers, RickO

  • AlexinPAAlexinPA Posts: 189 ✭✭✭

    Very interesting bit of history, thanks.

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