This Cuban coinage minted within the United States was somewhat of a short series. Only the following eight dates were minted for circulation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania : 1915, 1916, 1920, 1938, 1943, 1946, 1953, and 1958.
The Philadelphia Mint was striking these coins for the Cuban Government up until 1958. Fidel Castro overthrew the Cuban Government in 1959, the United States severed relations with Cuba on January 3rd 1961, and One Centavo coinage ceased to be minted in Philadelphia.
CuNi (Copper Nickel) is typically a mixture of 75% Copper and 25% Nickel with possibly a trace of Manganese. The amounts of metal can vary, and sometimes impurities can show up in this mixture of metal as brown streaks. Creating unsightly coins for the collector.
Copper Nickel has been used in coinage for a number of reasons. The main reason is for its durability. It is also a metal that’s cheaper than silver and has non-allergic properties. Newly minted Copper Nickel coins can be truly one of the most beautiful metals to view in terms of luster and aesthetics.
Though Copper Nickel is very durable it’s also extremely condition sensitive. Once Copper Nickel coins pass through circulation for long periods of time, most of the beauty of a newly minted coin will have been stripped away, and a not so pleasant coin will evolve.
Brass is more condition sensitive than Copper Nickel, and not nearly as durable. This soft metal can get banged up very easily in circulation, and will lose most of its luster shortly after circulating. Any type of moisture is not good news for Brass either which will tarnish the surfaces and create nasty black spots which corrode the surfaces underneath. Collectors will generally pay more for Brass coins without spots as they detract from overall eye appeal.
A collector of these coins that’s putting this series together by date, and not concerned about condition sensitivity doesn’t face many hurdles. For collector the that is seeking gem (MS 65) or gem+ (MS 66 or higher) examples of these dates to complete the series may face several challenges finding stellar graded examples. Sometimes the smallest denominations in coinage are the most difficult to find in good condition due heavy use during past commerce.
Prices today for Cuban coinage can become strarospheric as collectors chase high grade examples to compete for registry sets. I speculate prices will rise even further in the not so distant future once the trade embargo is possibly lifted between the United States and Cuba. If this happens more collectors from Cuba could enter the marketplace and impact prices significantly.
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