May 2: The 20-Cent Piece

20 CentDid you know that once upon a time the United States minted a 20-cent coin? Despite being an instant failure with the American public this coin managed to hold on for three years before it was officially canceled. It was on May 2, 1878 that the 20-cent piece’s brief life came to an end.

The 20-cent piece was brainchild of Nevada Senator John P. Jones. After his arrival in Congress in 1874, Jones submitted a bill calling for the creation of a 20-cent piece. Jones cited the shortage of small change in the Western states and territories and believed that a 20 cent piece would help relieve the shortage. The bill quickly became law and in May 1875, the coin was released to the public.

There was just one problem with the 20-cent piece; many Americans began confusing the coin for the similarly sized quarter. It also didn’t help that the two coins had similar Lady Liberty designs on the obverse side. Allegedly, mistakes in change-making became quite common and the 20-cent piece lost favor among the American people. In July 1876, just over a year after the coin was released to the public, a bill was proposed in Congress to kill the 20-cent piece. Although it did not pass, Mint Director Henry Linderman significantly lowered the 1876 mintage of 20-cent pieces. In March 1877, Linderman authorized the melting of 12,359 20-cent pieces at the Carson City, Nevada mint. Finally, on May 2, 1878 Congress got around to officially abolishing the 20-cent piece and Linderman promptly ordered the few remaining 20-cent piece at national mints be melted. Today, only a few 20-cent pieces still exist, most notably one sold at auction for $564,000 in 2013.

Since we’re dealing with money, let’s make a Money Maker. The Money Maker was created by Charles Joly, Chief Mixologist at Chicago’s The Drawing Room. It’s a fluffy, bittersweet drink with just a hint of mint, thanks to the mint infused tequila.

Money Maker

  • 3 ounces Mint Infused Tequila
  • 1/2 ounce Raspberry Liqueur
  • 1/4 ounce Branca Menta
  • 1 1/2 ounces lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 egg white

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice filled highball glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Tomorrow: Bollywood!

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