Currency timeline

1776 to 1778 Codfish were depicted on many of the first coins of the infant United States
1787 The first one-cent coin was struck by a private mint. This coin, known as the Fugio cent, was 100% copper and this composition would continue until the mid-1800's
April 2, 1792 The US Mint was authorized to produce one-cent copper coins for the first time. Originally, there were four designs struck: the "chain" cent, the "wreathed" cent, the "flowing hair" cent, and the "liberty" cent. In the same year, a law that established the Mint made coin defacement, counterfeiting, and embezzlement by Mint employees punishable by death
October 15, 1794 The first coin in the United States was issued; it was a silver dollar
1815 No one-cent coins were minted due to a copper shortage caused by the War of 1812 with Great Britain
latter 1800s The Mint issued two-cent and three-cent coins
1856 The Flying Eagle cent was first produced; this coin was notable for its change in composition -- 88% copper and 12% nickel
1859 The Indian cent was first introduced and depicted an Indian princess on the obverse. A popular story about its design claims a visiting Indian chief lent the designer's daughter his headdress so she could pose as the Indian princess. Most Indian cents minted during the Civil War went primarily to pay Union soldiers. After the Civil War, in 1864, the composition of the one-cent coin was changed to 95% copper and 5% zinc.
1862 The US Department of the Treasury first issued paper US currency to make up for the shortage of coins and to finance the US Civil War. The first paper notes printed in the United States were in denominations of 1 cent, 5 cents, 25 cents, and 50 cents
1864 The one-cent coin was made legal tender by the Coinage Act of 1864
July 5, 1865 By the end of the US Civil War, 33% of all US paper currency in circulation was counterfeit. This was a devastating situation for a nation struggling to recover economically from such a destructive war. On July 5, 1865, the Secret Service was created as a part of the Department of the Treasury to help suppress counterfeit currency
1873 to 1878 The Mint produced a large, heavy silver dollar exclusively for use in trading with China
1874 Since 1874 the mints of the United States have been making currency for foreign governments, whose combined orders have at times exceeded the volume of domestic requirements
1892 The first US commemorative coin was produced, featuring Christopher Columbus
1899 Coin telephones appeared for the first time, patented by Hartford, Connecticut inventor William Gray and were installed in the Hartford Bank. Local calls using a coin-operated phone in the United States cost only 5 cents everywhere until 1951. Before 1899, when using the first pay telephone, a caller did not deposit coins in the machine. He or she gave them to an attendant who stood next to the telephone
1959 The Lincoln Memorial was added to the reverse of the one-cent coin by Mint engraver Frank Gasparro to mark Lincoln's 150th birthday, making it the first and only coin to have the same person on both sides. If you inspect it carefully, you will see the statue of Lincoln inside the Memorial.
1990 Over seven billion notes worth about $82 billion were produced for circulation by the Federal Reserve System, at a cost of 2.6 cents each. 95% will replace unfit notes and 5% will support economic growth. At any one time, $200 million in notes may be in production. The Bureau of Engraving produces $4,095 in paper currency each minute
1998 More than 10 billion pennies were minted in the United States, according to US Treasury, Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The actual number of coins produced, by denomination, was as follows: pennies, 10,257,400,000; nickels, 1,323,672,000; dimes, 2,335,300,000; quarters, 1,867,400,000; and half-dollars, 30,710,000
2000 19 US coins found to have been produced with errors, of 28 billion that have been minted