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American Coin & Bullion Normalizing after 1873: 19th Century Coinage & Currency #3

December 20, 2018

American Coin & Bullion Normalizing after 1873: 19th Century Coinage & Currency #3

Following the controversies and fiscal problems resulting from of the Coinage Act of 1873, compensatory measures were taken by the Treasury and the US Mint to resume more normal issuance and circulation of US Currencies.  Silver coins were made legal tender at their nominal value for any amount not exceeding $5 in any one payment. Owners of silver bullion were allowed to deposit it at any mint of the United States to be formed into bars or into trade dollars, and no deposit of silver for other coinage was to be received. The joint resolution of July 22, 1876, recited that the trade dollar should not thereafter be legal tender, and that its coinage should be limited to an amount sufficient to meet the export demand for it.

The Act of March 3, 1887, retired the trade dollar and prohibited its coinage. That of September 26, 1890, discontinued the coinage of the one-dollar and three-dollar gold pieces. The Act of February 28, 1878, directed the coinage of silver dollars of the weight of 412½ grains troy, of standard silver, as provided in the Act of January 18, 1837, and that such coins, with all silver dollars theretofore coined, should be legal tender at their nominal value for all debts and dues, public and private, except where otherwise expressly stipulated in the contract. The Secretary of the Treasury was authorized and directed by the first section of the act to purchase from time to time silver bullion at the market price thereof, not less than $2,000,000 worth nor more than $4,000,000 worth per month, and to cause the same to be coined monthly, as fast as purchased, into such dollars.

A subsequent act of July 14, 1890, enacted that the Secretary of the Treasury should purchase silver bullion to the aggregate amount of 4,500,000 ounces, or so much thereof as might be offered, each month, at the market price thereof, not exceeding $1.00 for 371.25 grains of pure silver, and to issue in payment thereof Treasury notes of the United States, such notes to be redeemable by the government, on demand, in coin, and to be legal tender in payment of all debts, public and private, except where otherwise expressly stipulated in the contract. The act directed the Secretary of the Treasury to coin each month 2,000,000 ounces of the silver bullion purchased under the provisions of the act into standard silver dollars until July 1, 1891, and thereafter as much as might be necessary, to provide for the redemption of the Treasury notes issued under the act. The Act of September 26, 1890, amended Revised Statute 3510, by authorizing a procedure for new coin designs generally known today as “the 25-year law”. A portion of the legislation states that “no change in the design or die of any coin shall be made oftener that once in twenty-five years from and including the year of the first adoption of the design, model, die, or hub for the same coin.” Another legislative Act, approved the same day, discontinued the three dollar gold, one-dollar gold, and three-cent nickel coins.

The purchasing clause of the Act of July 14, 1890, was repealed by the Act of November 1, 1893. The War Revenue Act of June 13, 1898, authorized and directed the coinage of standard silver dollars to the amount of not less than one and one half million dollars a month, from the bullion in the Treasury purchased under the Act of July 14, 1890.

 





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