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half lives of coins

Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2020 8:42 pm
I recently posted the following question to another site:

Does anyone know if there's ever been an attempt to estimate/calculate the rate at which coins in regular circulation are lost over time? For many coins we know the starting mintage and we may know about specific times when large numbers of coins were melted down to be replaced or for various war efforts etc... But, it seems to me that it should be possible to determine a sort of "half life" for a coin of whatever size and composition that would allow you to estimate how many are still on earth X years later.

I got thinking about this and it occurred to me that maybe the half lives of coins that are lower denominations might actually be shorter than for higher ones. Mostly this came from thinking about the Newfoundland coins where the 5 cents are often so scarce relatively to the 10 and 20 cents, even though they were minted in roughly similar numbers. The idea might be that, since they were used more routinely than the higher value coins, maybe they wear out quicker.

Anyway, someone posted this in response: ... ns_Carried

...because of course, there is no idea that I have had, that someone else hasn't had better already. Anyway, it sort of cracked me up. It's not as accurate as half life but there is a rate of decay and it is faster for lower denomination coins.

Stay safe everyone.

Re: half lives of coins

Posted: Wed Mar 25, 2020 9:09 am
by Bill in Burl
Judging from all the US, Canadian, & foreign coins that I always collected "raw", almost across the board, those of lower denominations always wore out more because they may have been used in far more transactions and carried in pockets/pursesthan those larger. Just think of how more you used nickels and pennies, rather than quarters, halves or dollars. Now the coin alloy plays a lot into that as well, with the lower denomination coins made of cheaper alloys (copper & bronze much more than silver or gold).

Re: half lives of coins

Posted: Wed Mar 25, 2020 9:14 am
by troubadour ... collecting
How long does a penny remain in circulation?
On average, a penny remains in circulation for 40 years. Talk about getting your money’s worth! ... -money.htm
How long is the lifespan of U.S. paper money?
$1 6.6 years
$5 4.7 years
$10 5.3 years
$20 7.8 years
$50 12.2 years
$100 22.9 years
higher banknotes denomation last longer

Re: half lives of coins

Posted: Wed Mar 25, 2020 11:49 am
Ha - interesting!