Oklahoma congressman Frank Lucas introduced new coin legislation Thursday that would replace the circulating Jefferson nickel with a smaller and lighter five-cent coin, once known as a half-dime.
The text of the bill, H.R. 6942, has not yet been published by Government Printing Office (GPO), but insights into its intent may be gleaned from an article and Lucas statement by David Owen of The New Yorker in March:
"I think we need to assess stepping back from the nickel, the five-cent piece, and consider readopting the traditional five-cent coin, the old half-dime."
The half-dime saw the beginning of its demise with the minting of the heavier and larger nickel in 1866, which has kept its size and weight to this day. Should H.R. 6942 follow the half-dime specifications, a new 5-cent coin would be smaller than a Roosevelt dime, and weigh half as much. In the words of Owen, "not light enough to blow away in a strong breeze, though almost."
Aside from the buzz this bill would create for collectors if passed, it’s main aim is to reduce coin production expenses. Earlier in 2008, the cost to mint each nickel was nearly 10 cents due to the price of copper. Since, copper prices have fallen. Given that and the very few remaining legislative calendar days in 2008, H.R. 6942 has an uphill battle in receiving attention this year.
Rep. Lucas, a lifelong coin collector, is a member of the Financial Services Committee and is no stranger to coin legislation. Prior to this most current legislation, Lucas introduced H.R. 2730, which collectors can appreciate. It seeks:
"To amend title 31, United States Code, to provide a clear line of demarcation with regard to private ownership of any coin, medal, or numismatic item made or issued by the United States Government before January 1, 1933, and of any piece produced by the United States Mint before such date, that is not in the possession of the United States Government, to establish requirements with respect to the inventory of certain United States coins, medals, numismatic items, and other pieces produced by the United States Mint that are owned by the Department of the Treasury, and for other purposes."
That bill has been stuck in committee too, where H.R. 6942 is now.
For any legislation to become law, it must pass both the House and the Senate, and get signed by the President.
This is a first step to remove Penny from circulation. Just make Five Cent smaller and rename to Half Dime, so Dime will be the base of money instead of Penny!