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Ruined Money

February 2024
1min read

“Cents and Sensibility” (September 2000) reminded me that visual elegance is not all that has been lost thanks to “progressive” changes to our currency. Other sensuous elements have been sacrificed as well.

When the first clad coins were issued, my grandfather, a retired Pittsburgh steelworker, returned from the bank and called me into the kitchen. In one hand, he held a handful of clad coins; in the other, the same number of all-silver coins.

He gave the silver coins a shake, then dropped them onto the kitchen table, where they rang musically until the last coin had spun to a stop. It was a sweet sound, full of good memories: my dad jingling his pocket change when he was getting ready for work; the sound of silver being counted for ice cream from a street vendor.

Sweeping the silver aside and with a gesture of disdain, my grandfather then threw down the clad coins. They clanked, making a dull, dead sound.

“Well, they’ve done it,” he said with disgust. “They’ve ruined our money.”

Thank you for Mr. Dorgan’s beautifully written piece. Future generations will never know the pleasure of touching, holding, jingling, and admiring the lovely everyday artwork that we used to take for granted.

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