Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Everybody Needs a Hobby

With counterfeit coins in the news lately, I came across a nice piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer highlighting Henning nickels and the people who still search for them. Apparently, in 1954, Francis Henning, a mechanical engineer in Cleveland:
made hundreds of thousands of fake nickels in a machine shop in rural Erial, Camden County, all by himself, using a 250,000-pound press and sheets of cupronickel that cost him thousands of dollars. Then he'd launder the money for real bills at local banks, posing as a vending-machine operator
Why counterfeit nickels, especially when he already had a good-paying day job? The Inquirer continues:
Henning, according to one old newspaper account, needed to make his nickels to pay off the debts he incurred building the industrial machine that fabricated them."You wasted tremendous talent," a judge told him after he was sentenced to three years in prison.
According to www.NumismaticEnquirer.com which also has an image of a Henning Nickel with the markers for identifying the 1944 counterfeit:
It is estimated that more than 100,000 of Henning's nickels reached circulation. Henning dumped another 200,000 nickels in Copper Creek, New Jersey, of which only 14,000 were recovered. Another 200,000 are thought to have been dumped in the Schuylkill River.
The legacy of Mr. Henning and his illegal hobby continues: as noted in the Philadelphia Inquirer piece, people still search the rivers for examples and the nickels still trade on eBay.


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    1. Thanks James, Posted at http://www.vorts.com/rare_coins/