If you’re hooked on collecting coins, it’s understandable. You’re infected, as it’s apparently a disease that started spreading, without a cure, well back in U.S. history. Read the following from the Oct. 5, 1859 issue of The Daily Ohio Statesman and take heart:

“There has been prevalent in this country, for than a year past, a disease, which may be better termed a mania, for collecting coins. It has seized on all classes of the community, on all ages, and on both sexes. For the past three months it has not been so severe, and there is a manifest falling off in the number of cases, but as the cool season approaches, it again revives.”

The United States, as well as its coin collectors, have been waiting since 2006 to see what alternatives to current coin compositions might be introduced.

Costs of producing cents and nickels continue to be higher than face value.

The need to address rising costs has produced much talk and some research.

If you think this process is going at an ultra leisurely pace, you might be right.

I find myself thinking this from time to time.

However, it pays to remind myself that the two-cent piece was first proposed in 1806. It finally appeared 58 years later in 1864.

So a leisurely pace of change is nothing new.

By law and tradition, the Mint must be concerned with the impact any change in coinage will have on the vending machine industry.

This is reasonable.

The industry will be greatly affected by any changes to coins used in its mechanisms.

For the vending industry, the cent was abolished many years ago when penny gumballs ceased to be commonplace.

A change to the nickel and even the dime and quarter are being looked into.

However, change not done correctly brings problems.

This is why I don’t understand the Mint’s desire to alter the composition of the dime and quarter (and presumably half-dollar as well). A cheaper metallic composition would almost certainly increase the risk of counterfeiting.

I think the only reason we’ve avoided the round pound debacle in this country is precisely because the mini-dollar never truly entered into our circulating coins. If it had, with its metallic value at less than 10% of its face value, the profit that could come from counterfeiting could’ve proven too much to resist.

I suppose it’s a shame we lack a suitable metal whose value is somewhere between that of nickel and silver. It would help in getting higher face-value coins safely into circulation.