Ben writes: Our teacher gave us this assignment on “minting a new coin”. She wants us to find the necessary physical and chemical properties of a coin, or the materials. We also have to discuss about the anti-counterfeiting features which will be in students’ designs. She also wants to know about how large and the mass of the coin should be, what would happen if the materials in the coin were worth more than the face of the coin (which is 50 cents), and what particular materials have we already ruled out because of the financial concern. Also some other costs needed to be considered in the design for this new coin. Besides all those questions, she also wanted us to know how long will the coin materials be obtained and processed, how long do we expect the coin to remain in circulation (which I don’t know what it means), what will happen to the materials when used coins are removed from circulation, and how might impact on the enviornment be addressed at each stage of the coin’s life cycle?
Due to our lack of knowledge, we have no idea of anything about coins. We have to give reasons for our materials selection, an analysis of both necessary and desirable properties of the chosen materials (which we hope it will be easier if we choose the ones that are using it now, and the methods used to discourage counterfeiting.
We also have to discuss how materials will be mined and/or process, to estimate the long-term availability of those resources; how long is the coin expected to last in general circulation? Will materials making up the coin be recycled or reused? And then finally we have to present and analyze production costs of the new coin. Involving factors such as location of resources, mining, production or processing (she wants us not to forget about the energy costs), and distribution. Will the cost of materials be less than the value of the coin itself? Are overall production costs reasonable based upon the expected lifetime of the coin?
So many questions and I absolutely have to apologize for it, if this takes too much time to provide help for me, I certainly do understand. But anyhow, thank you for creating the site and letting me ask questions.
- The physical and chemical properties are important to maintain the appearance and longevity of coins. Remember that the coins are a product of a countries economy. You don’t want the coin to melt in your pocket. (ice is definitely out as a medium for coinage).
- You don’t want anybody to easily be able to reproduce your coins. Counterfeiting can destroy a nation’s economy. Explore why coins are difficult to reproduce.
- Coins used to be made from precious metals but now have been tokenized with base metals. See the FAQ for standards of U.S. silver coins before and after they became tokenized.
- The difference between the intrinsic value and the face value is called “seignorage” and is the profit that the mint makes on each coin and one way it pays its expenses. That’s why there are no gold pennies. After you see what U.S. coins are made from you might want to check your local paper to see how much these materials cost in the open market (this includes production costs).
- You want the coin to circulate, that is be in use, for a long time. Though all silver coins were pulled out of circulation after 1964, base metal coins from this era are still being spent. What is the oldest coin you have found? That will give you some idea of circulation time.
I hope this gets you going on your project. Good luck.