I don’t know about you but i’ve always wondered that: why are dimes (10¢) smaller than pennies (1¢) and nickels (5¢) when they are of higher value? If you don’t know what i’m talking about, there you go:
I mean, shouldn’t it make more sense to have their size proportional to their value? Make the nickel slightly larger than the penny, the dime larger than the nickel and so on and so forth. Just like the euro:
So, we decided to look into it and as it turns out, there’s a pretty good reason for this “anomaly”. Here’s how it goes. (the article continues after the ad)
In a time when the United States didn’t have paper notes, coins were “the money”. Now, all of these coins were made with silver and each one contained the correct amount of silver. For example, a silver dollar was made out of silver worth approximately one dollar, the quarter from silver worth around 25 cents of silver and the dime from 10 cents worth of silver (remember when we talked about Why Dimes, Quarters And Half-Dollars Have Ridges While Pennies And Nickels Do Not?).
As years went by, everyday transactions required lower value coins and that is when pennies and nickels came into existence. But these coins were developed in an era when the US was gradually reducing the precious metal content in coins. So, even though the original penny was as large as today’s half dollars in order to have one cent worth of copper, it eventually became clear that it was very impractical to use such a large coin in everyday transactions so a decision was made to reduce its size. But, because the dime was already a very small coin, it wasn’t possible to make pennies and nickels even smaller so they ended up with a coin that was larger than the dime.
And that is why pennies and nickels are larger than dimes even though they worth less.