Thursday, January 10, 2013

Why Do Coins Have Ridges All Around

Have you ever wondered why coins have those little ridges along their sides. Apparently this goes back to 1792, when the Coinage Act established the U.S. Mint. That act of legislation also specified that $10, $5 and $2.50 coins (known as eagles, half-eagles and quarter-eagles) were to be made of their face value in gold, dollar, half-dollar, quarter-dollar, dime and half-dime coins were to be made of their value in silver. (Cent and half-cent coins were made of cheaper copper.) Unfortunately would-be criminals saw they could make a good profit by filing shavings from the sides of gold and silver coins and selling the precious metal. Before the 18th-century was out, the U.S. Mint began adding ridges to the coins’ edges, a process called “reeding,” in order to make it impossible to shave them down without the result being obvious. As a side benefit, the reeded edges also made coin design more intricate and counterfeiting more difficult.


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