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Era 1929–1945 Great Depression and World War II


The newspaper Variety printed a now-famous headline in 1929: "Wall Street Lays An Egg."  This announcement signaled the beginning of the Great Depression—and of dramatic changes in America's coinage.

President Franklin Roosevelt issued an Executive Order that forbade the hoarding and exporting of gold.  The Order also required U.S. citizens who held gold coins to deliver them to the federal government.  The United States went off the gold standard, and the Mint ceased production of all gold coins.  In 1934, the Gold Reserve Act withdrew gold coins from circulation, provided for the devaluation of the dollar's gold content, and created the Exchange Stabilization Fund.  The first shipment of gold arrived at the U.S. Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in 1937.

Other significant "firsts" of this era: In 1933, Nellie Tayloe Ross became the first woman to be appointed Director of the U.S Mint.  In 1937, a mother and daughter (Elinor and Virginia Dare) became the second and third real women ever represented on a U.S. coin (the Roanoke Island North Carolina half dollar).  (The first was Queen Isabella of Spain, who was portrayed on a quarter in 1893.)

America's entrance into World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor also affected the nation's coinage: copper, which was critical to the war effort, was removed from the cent in 1943 and replaced by zinc-coated steel.  The pre-war copper composition was restored in 1946.  Following President Roosevelt's death on April 12, 1945, the Roosevelt dime was issued in his honor.  The dime denomination was chosen for Roosevelt's portrait because of his support of the March of Dimes, a polio research organization.

Keywords: WWII, WW II

2.5 X 2.5 in. @ 72 pixels per inch

Copyright Info:
Pessolano-Filos, Francis. The Venus Numismatics Dictionary of Artists, Designers, Modellers, Engravers, and Die Sinkers Whose Works Were Commissioned by or Struck by the United States Mint, 1792–1977. New York: Eros Publishing Company, 1983.

Last Updated:
August 16, 2006