Ask John- Why Do Some Coins Have Ridges While Others Don't?

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Jimmy from Tallahassee has a question that just makes a lot of sense, so he sent it to me:

"Why do dimes and quarters have ridges on their edges but pennies and nickels don't?’’

Jimmy, you’re very observant.

I guess I had always taken the coins for granted and never thought much of them.

Maybe that’s because growing up, I would quickly spend any money I could get my hands on…….but anyway, why do some coins have ridges?

The U.S. Treasury department says the process of making these ridges is called ‘‘reeding’’.

But the officials there say these ridges are more than just a decoration, they served an important purpose for maintaining the worth of the coin.

These ridges were used to discourage people from illegally shaving or clipping off some of the precious metal in the gold and silver coins that the U.S. Mint used to produce.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta says dimes, quarters and half-dollars used to contain 90% silver.

But in the 1960s, there was a silver shortage, so the Coinage Act of 1965 eventually changed the composition.

Silver was eliminated from the dime and quarter and eventually taken out of the half-dollar in 1970.

Today the U.S. Mint says it uses metals that aren’t worth shaving, but the ridges have remained to help those with vision loss tell the difference between the coins, like the difference between a dime and a penny.

Thanks for your question Jimmy!

If any of you have an interesting question you’’d like answered, ask me! Just send it to:

Ask John!
1801 Halstead Blvd
Tallahassee, FL 32309

or email it to

Be sure to let me know your name and where you’re from and if you’re lucky, I’ll answer it live on the show.

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