A twenty-cent piece was certainly not a new idea. First proposed by Thomas Jefferson in 1783 to be part of our decimal system of coinage, the idea was abandoned in favor of the quarter dollar during deliberations for the Mint Act of 1792. The quarter more closely approximated the “two-bits” of the Spanish eight reales pieces then in widespread use. Proposed again in 1806, the denomination faced little opposition itself, but the legislation was defeated for reasons having to do with other parts of the bill.
Finally, in February of 1874 Nevada Senator John Percival Jones, having somewhat dubious motives, introduced a bill to make the denomination a reality. The Senator claimed to believe that this coin, one that the Carson City Mint could produce, would solve the problem of the shortage of small change, particularly in the West.
The Mint Act of 1873 had abolished the silver three-cent piece, half dime and dollar, but without giving the San Francisco.... (Expand Text)