Twenty Cents Gets Eighty Sixed
May 2, 1878 - Today was the day the United States Mint stopped making the 20-cent coin. It goes down in history as one of the least circulated coins in US history.
Over 1.3 million of these silver coins were minted starting in 1875, but most of them were melted down before they made it into anybody's pocket.
The main idea behind the 20-cent silver piece was to create a coin that would rival the silver franc as a reserve currency. Others claim that the real goal was to provide a market for western silver mines. One reason it was quickly abandoned was confusion over the coin's appearance. It resembled the quarter in color, size and weight. One would have to literally read the fine print to be sure of the value.
Due to the 20-cent piece's short-lived minting and limited circulation, its value has steadily skyrocketed over the last century. A particularly rare date is the 1876-CC (made at the Carson City Mint). Collectors believe that only about a dozen of these exist, and at auction in 2007 one was sold for $350,000.