United States of America

Monetary System


Circulating Coins
1 dollar = 100 cents

D = Denver, CO (1862 to date)
P = Philadelphia, PA (1792 to date)
S = San Francisco, CA (1852 to date)
W = West Point, NY (1988 to date)

Cent(s): 1, 5 nickel, 10 dime, 25 quarter / 50 half-dollar / 1 dollar

The Coinage Act of 1792 established the first United States Mint in Philadelphia - at that time the Nation's capital - and directed American coinage to be made of gold, silver and copper. Before that, "currency" included foreign and colonial currency, livestock, produce, and wampum. The Act required coins to have "...an impression emblematic of liberty" and the Mint used harnessed horses to drive the machinery that produced coinage. Its first delivery of coins occurred in 1793 and consisted of 11,178 copper cents. Legend holds that George Washington donated some of his personal silver to the Mint for manufacturing early coinage. Seven years later, in 1799, the Mint became an independent agency reporting directly to the President. Subsequent legislation established branch mints, assay offices and fixed public depository functions upon such establishments. The Coinage Act of 1873 put all mint and assay activities under the newly organized Bureau of the Mint in the Department of the Treasury. The name of the Burea of the Mint was changed in 1984, by Secretarial order, to the United States Mint.

The Mint's Director is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. David Rittenhouse was the first Director of the Mint, appointed by George Washington. Today the Mint's mission includes manufacturing high quality circulating, numismatic and bullion coin, the worldwide sales and marketing of numismatic and bullion products at a reasonable price and profit, and providing protection for the Nation's $100 billion in gold and silver reserves. Since its creation, the U.S. Mint has grown into a large enterprise with more than $1 billion in annual revenues and 2,200 employees. It is by far the world's largest manufacturer of coins and medals, producing coins not only for the U.S. but on behalf of several other countries as well.

The Mint operates the Philadelphia (which covers five acres of land), Denver (which opened in 1863 as a U.S. Assay Office), San Francisco (established in 1854 and survived the great earthquake of April 18, 1906) and West Point Mints; the Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky; and a facility for processing orders for numismatic products in Lanham Maryland. The first Mint building was the first Federal building erected by the U.S. Government under the Constitution. Past Mints have included Dahlonega, GA; Charlotte, NC; New Orleans, LA; and Carson City, NV. Mint marks, "S", "D", "P", or "W" designate the Mint facility, which produced the coin, however by provision of the Coinage Act of 1965, Mint marks were not carried on coins made in 1965, 1966, or 1967. The present Philadelphia Mint opened in 1969 and is the fourth facility which has been located in that city.


Around 15 billion coins are struck every year. The 1c coin is almost completely made of copper, whereas the rest of the coins are alloys of copper and nickel, so that they look like silver. All recent coins bear the inscription "In God we Trust" or "E Pluribus Unum".

The 25-cent (quarter), 10-cent (dime), five-cent (nickel) and one-cent (penny) pieces are the coin denominations commonly in use today in the U.S. Half-dollar and dollar coins continue to be issued but rarely circulate in everyday commerce. Coin denominations issued in the past but no longer in use include the half-cent, two-cent, three-cent, and 20-cent copper pieces and a small silver coin called a half-dime. Gold coins in denominations of $1, $2.50 ("Quarter Eagle"), $3, $5 ("Half Eagle"), $10 ("Eagle"), and $20 ("Double Eagle") were issued from time to time from 1793 until 1933.

Silver half-dollars have been minted in large quantities since 1793 and peaked in popularity with the introduction of the Kennedy half-dollar in 1964. Silverless half-dollars were first introduced in 1971. Silver dollars have been issued at various times since 1793, were discontinued in 1933, then re-introduced in 1971 in the form of the silverless Eisenhower dollar. The Eisenhower dollar was replaced in 1979 with the silverless Susan B. Anthony coin, in honor of the famed women's suffrage pioneer. The Susan B. Anthony was in turn replaced by a new one, portraying Sacajawea, the Native American woman who contributed to the success of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The coin is golden in color and made from a manganese brass metal alloy.

In addition to the above, various so-called "commemorative" coins have been issued from time to time in various denominations to honor a particular noteworthy person, place or event. The first such coin was issued in 1892 to commemorate the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. These coins are usually made in limited quantities, sell at a premium and rarely circulate as normal coinage.

1969 Proof Set (7 coins)
A picture (24Kb), the obverse (35Kb) and reverse (21Kb) of the coins.

For further information, contact the United States Mint, Customer Service, 10001 Aerospace Road, Lanham, MD 20706, Telephone 202-283-2646 Internet: http://www.usmint.gov/