The Future of Money: The Nonsense Nickel

The Deputy Director of the U.S. Mint is telling me that I am holding in my hand what could be a future nickel. I don’t believe him.

Standing in the Mint’s research and development lab in central Philadelphia, I look down at a brown piece of metal that is the size of a nickel, but about the color and weight of a penny. I am immediately thrown off by both its light feel and dark hue. There is no way anyone would ever think this is a real, I keep thinking.

Since 2011, Mint officials in this lab have been looking into alternative metals for coins that could bring down the agency’s growing production costs. After spending $8.1 million on research, scientists discovered six potential metal alloys for pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters that could save the government between $30 and $40 million a year. The copper-plated zinc option for nickels that I have in my hand is just one of them. (Researchers here refer to it as the “nonsense nickel.”)

Omg. Apparently despite things like Square and the fact that we buy everything on the internet now, circulating coin production increased nearly 18% last year alone. We had to produce 6.6 billion more pennies! Penniless Canadians, you win this round.

Would you go for a brown nickel? I say if we can’t WAKE UP and ban pennies, the least we can do is make things cheaper.

Photo: ursonate


9 Comments / Post A Comment

gl (#5,458)

There can only be one brownish copper coin at a time in the US money system and it can only be the coin worth the least. I only approve of this nickel if the penny is discontinued!

OhMarie (#299)

@gl gl for president of the mint!

Get rid of the penny! When will we overthrow the yoke of this worthless tyranny?

Lily Rowan (#70)

Ban pennies! Or nickels! I fucking hate nickels.

Also can we just go to dollar coins like a civilized country? Of course if you give people the choice they are going to keep doing what they have always done. Where is the government leadership on this?????

andnowlights (#2,902)

@Lily Rowan Didn’t we try dollar coins at some point? Are they still in production? I thought it had Sacajawea on it but I don’t think it was super popular in the real world.

Lily Rowan (#70)

@andnowlights They’ve released a couple of dollar coin versions, but never phased out the dollar bills, which is what you would actually need to do.

jquick (#3,730)

@andnowlights Yes, they still make dollar coins. Hubby uses them all the time. You have to ask for them at your credit union, and they need to order you some. Or at least you do in my small town.


Allison (#4,509)


I only like dollar coins for the weird sensation of paying for $30 worth of stuff by dumping out the change section of your wallet.

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