Monday, August 29, 2011

Wartime Nickels

Reverse side of a 1942-P Jefferson nickel
While reading and thinking about wartime coinage, I remembered that nickel was also in such short supply during WW II that the mint replaced it with silver. Link  Nickel was needed to harden steel for armor plating. Special nickels were marked with huge mint marks P, D, and S over Monticello on the reverse to facilitate re-collection and melting.  But Gresham's Law kicked in after the war and the silver nickels were hoarded when the price of nickel fell. I still have a few, found in change, darkened with age due to their manganese content.

Lastly, copper was in such short supply during WW II that the Treasury loaned out 14,700 tons of coinage silver for use in making electrical coils for uranium isotope separation at Oak Ridge National Labs. Link


  1. I too have a few old silver nickels in my coin collection. I also have some steel WW2 pennies. I collected them from change the way so many kids did back when I was young. I wonder if today's children do that?

  2. I wonder if today's children do that?

    I don't think so with pennies and nickels because the coins have become indistinguishable in value, plus there's no San Francisco mint which were always a treat to find because they made fewer of them.
    The Mint did a good job with the 50 States Quarters though, IMO.