A very nice example of Dr. Lewis Feuchtwanger's private proposal to create a one-cent piece for use in circulation, made of Feuchtwanger’s Composition, a variety of German silver. During the Hard Times era of 1837, continuing into 1838, coins of this design were struck in large quantities, no doubt in the hundreds of thousands, where they were readily accepted into circulation. Various die combinations were made, described in Russell Rulau’s classic Standard Catalog of U.S. Tokens 1700-1900. Both obverse and reverse have a lustrous silvery appearance, with fine eye appeal. A classic reminder of this popular issue, this Gem will find a place in an advanced collection.
In late summer and autumn 1837 Dr. Lewis Feuchtwanger spent much time and effort in trying to interest Congress in adapting his alloy to make coins. The new metal was said to have been "clean, while a durable material, of specific value, from which coins and all articles can be advantageously manufactured as are now wrought out of silver." His ideas were outlined in a petition dated September 13, bearing the heading, 25th Congress, Document No. 7, House of Representatives, 1st Session, titled "Substitute for Copper. Memorial Lewis Feuchtwanger." The text noted:
"That your memorialist after repeated labors, has succeeded in making and perfecting a metallic composition, known as German silver, of clean, white, and durable material, of specific value, from which coins and all articles can be advantageously manufactured, as are now wrought out of pure silver.
Your memorialist proposes to your honorable body to substitute this composition for the copper currency of the country, by striking off pieces of the size of a dime, and of the value of one cent, specimens of which he has prepared for inspection.
Your memorialist proposes to furnish this substitute for copper as cheaply as copper is now furnished to the Mint, and is confident that the "silver cent" thus proposed as a substitute for the cent pieces will be more acceptable, more portable, and would be more generally used in making up the fractional parts of a dollar.
Your memorialist prays your honorable body to take the subject under your consideration, and, as in duty bound, will ever pray."
In Congress on September 13, Senator Thomas Hart Benton, of Missouri, presented Feuchtwanger's proposal "accompanied by specimens" for distribution to fellow legislators. The petition was to no avail, even despite an associated appeal made by Feuchtwanger himself, as the Mint desired to continue with its production of profit-producing copper cents. Thus the Feuchtwanger cent falls into the category of what might have been, but wasn't.
From the Hoosier Flyer Collection.