Coins of the United States dollar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Coins of the United States dollar were first minted in 1792. New coins have been produced annually since then and they make up a valuable aspect of the United States currency system. Today, circulating coins exist in denominations of 1¢ (i.e. 1 cent or $0.01), 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢, and $1.00. Also minted are bullion (including gold, silver and platinum) and commemorative coins. All of these are produced by the United States Mint. The coins are then sold to Federal Reserve Banks which in turn are responsible for putting coins into circulation and withdrawing them as demanded by the country's economy.

Current coinage[edit]

Today, four mints operate in the United States producing billions of coins each year. The main mint is the Philadelphia Mint,[1] which produces circulating coinage, mint sets and some commemorative coins. The Denver Mint[2] also produces circulating coinage, mint sets and commemoratives. The San Francisco Mint[3] produces regular and silver proof coinage, and produced circulating coinage until the 1970s. The West Point Mint[4] produces bullion coinage (including proofs). Philadelphia and Denver produce the dies used at all of the mints. The proof and mint sets are manufactured each year and contain examples of all of the year's circulating coins.

The producing mint of each coin may be easily identified, as most coins bear a mint mark. The identifying letter of the mint can be found on the front side of most coins, and is often placed near the year. Unmarked coins are issued by the Philadelphia mint. Among marked coins, Philadelphia coins bear a letter P. Denver coins bear a letter D, San Francisco coins bear a letter S, and West Point coins bear a letter W. S and W coins are rarely, if ever, found in general circulation, although S coins bearing dates prior to the mid-1970s are in circulation. The CC, O, C, and D mint marks were used on gold and silver coins for various periods in the mid-nineteenth century until the early twentieth century by temporary mints in Carson City, Nevada; New Orleans, Louisiana; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Dahlonega, Georgia; respectively: most such coins still extant are now in the hands of collectors and museums.

Coins in circulation[edit]

Value Image Specifications[5][6] Description Minted Usage Common Reference
Obverse Reverse Diameter Thickness Mass Composition Edge Obverse Reverse
US One Cent Obv.png Wheatback2014.jpg 0.75 in (19.05 mm) 1.55 mm 1909-1942, 1944-1982
3.11 g (48.0 gr)
copper 95%
tin/zinc 5%1
plain Abraham Lincoln Wheat 1909–1958 wide2 wheat cent, wheat penny
2005 Penny Rev Unc D.png Lincoln Memorial 1959–2008 wide cent, penny
see article: 2009 redesign 1982-present
2.50 g
zinc 97.5%
copper 2.5%1
Lincoln bicentennial designs 2009
US One Cent Rev.png Union shield 2010–present
Jefferson-Nickel-Unc-Obv.jpg US Nickel Reverse.jpg 0.835 in (21.209 mm) 1.95 mm 5 g (77.16 gr) copper 75%
nickel 25%3
plain Thomas Jefferson (profile) Monticello 1938–2003 wide nickel
NickelObverses.jpg see article: Westward Journey nickel Lewis & Clark bicentennial designs 2004–2005
US Nickel 2013 Obv.png US Nickel 2013 Rev.png Thomas Jefferson (portrait) Monticello 2006–present
10¢ Dime Obverse 13.png Dime Reverse 13.png 0.705 in (17.907 mm) 1.35 mm 2.268 g (35.00 gr) copper 91.67%
nickel 8.33%4
118 reeds Franklin D. Roosevelt torch, oak branch, olive branch 1946–present wide dime
25¢ 98 quarter obverse.png 98 quarter reverse.png 0.955 in (24.257 mm) 1.75 mm 5.67 g (87.5 gr) 119 reeds George Washington Bald eagle 1932–1974, 1977–19985 wide quarter
1976 Bicentennial Quarter Rev.png Bicentennial colonial military drummer (1975) 19765
2006 Quarter Proof.png See article: 50 State Quarters State Quarter Series 1999–2008
See article: D.C. and U.S. Territories Quarters D.C. and U. S. Territories Quarters 2009
2014 ATB Quarter Obv.png See article: America the Beautiful Quarters America the Beautiful Quarters 2010–2021
US Half Dollar Obverse 2015.png US 50 Cent Rev.png 1.205 in (30.607 mm) 2.15 mm 11.34 g (175.0 gr) 150 reeds John F. Kennedy Seal of the President of the United States surrounded by 50 stars 1964–1974, 1977–present5 limited6 half, half dollar, 50-cent piece
Bicentennial 50c.png Independence Hall (1975) 19765
1978 dollar obv.jpg 1978 dollar rev.jpg 38.1 mm 2.58 mm 22.68 g
(0.8 oz)
(350 gr)
reeded Dwight D. Eisenhower Apollo 11 mission insignia 1971-1974, 1977-1978 Obsolete, but still legal tender large dollar, "silver" dollar, Ike dollar
1976D Type2 Eisenhower Reverse.jpg Liberty Bell superimposed over the Moon 1975-1976
1999 SBA Obv P.png 1999 SBA Rev P.png 26.50 mm 2.00 mm 8.10 g
(125 gr)
reeded Susan B. Anthony Apollo 11 mission insignia 1979–1981, 19998 limited 6 SBA, Suzie B.
Sacagawea dollar obverse.png 2003 Sacagawea Rev.png 1.043 in (26.492 mm) 2.00 mm 8.10 g
(125 gr)
 100% Cu
Cladding:  77% Cu,
 12% Zn,
  7% Mn,
  4% Ni
Overall:  88.5% Cu,
     6% Zn,
  3.5% Mn,
    2% Ni
plain Sacagawea Bald eagle in flight 2000–2008 limited7 dollar coin, gold(en) dollar, Sacajawea
see article: Native American $1 Coin Act incused inscriptions Native American Themes 2009–present [7]
see article: Presidential $1 Coin Program7 LineartPresRev.png Each deceased president Statue of Liberty 2007–2016 dollar coin, gold(en) dollar
These images are to scale at 2.5 pixels per millimeter. For table standards, see the coin specification table.


US One Cent Obv.png
US Nickel 2013 Obv.png
Dime Obverse 13.png
2014 ATB Quarter Obv.png
US Half Dollar Obverse 2015.png
1999 SBA Obv P.png
Sacagawea dollar obverse.png
  1. The mass and composition of the cent changed to the current copper plated zinc core in 1982. Both types were minted in 1982 with no distinguishing mark. Cents minted in 1943 were struck on planchets punched from zinc coated steel which left the resulting edges uncoated. This caused many of these coins to rust. These "steel pennies" are not likely to be found in circulation today, as they were later intentionally removed from circulation for recycling the metal. However, cents minted from 1944 to 1946 were made from a special salvaged WWII brass composition to replace the steel cents, but still save material for the war effort, and are more common in circulation than their 1943 counterparts.
  2. The wheat cent was mainstream and common during its time. Some dates are rare, but many can still be found in circulation. This is partially due to the fact that unlike the formerly silver denominations (dollar, half, quarter, dime), the composition of the pre-1982 cent, nearly pure copper, is not so much more valuable over face value for it to be hoarded to the extreme extent of the silver denominations.
  3. Nickels produced from mid-1942 through 1945 were manufactured from 56% copper, 35% silver and 9% manganese. This allowed the saved nickel metal to be shifted to industrial production of military supplies during World War II. Few of these are still found in circulation.
  4. Prior to 1965 and passage of the Coinage Act of 1965 the composition of the dime, quarter, half-dollar and dollar coins was 90% silver and 10% copper. The half-dollar continued to be minted in a 40% silver-clad composition between 1965 and 1970. Dimes and quarters from before 1965 and half-dollars from before 1971 are generally not in circulation due to being removed for their silver content.
  5. In 1975 and 1976 bicentennial coinage was minted. Regardless of date of coining, each coin bears the dual date "1776-1976". The Quarter-Dollar, Half-Dollar and Dollar coins were issued in the copper 91.67% nickel 8.33% composition for general circulation and the Government issued 6-coin Proof Set. A special 3-coin set of 40% silver coins were also issued by the U.S. Mint in both Uncirculated and Proof.
  6. Use of the half-dollar is not as widespread as that of other coins in general circulation; most Americans use dollar coins, quarters, dimes, nickels and cents only, as these are the only coins most often found in general circulation. When found, many 50¢ coins are quickly hoarded, spent, or brought to banks.
  7. The Presidential Dollar series features portraits of all deceased U.S. Presidents with four coin designs issued each year in the order of the president's inauguration date. These coins began circulating on February 15, 2007. Starting 2012, these coins have been minted only for collectible sets because of a large stockpile.
  8. The Susan B. Anthony dollar coin was minted from 1979–1981 and 1999. The 1999 minting was in response to Treasury supplies of the dollar becoming depleted and the inability to accelerate the minting of the Sacagawea dollars by a year. 1981 Anthony dollars can sometimes be found in circulation from proof sets that were broken open, but these dollars were not minted with the intent that they circulate.

Bullion coins[edit]

Non-circulating bullion coins have been produced each year since 1986. They can be found in gold and silver, and since 1997 also platinum. In 2017, the Mint also introduced palladium bullion. The face value of these coins is legal as tender, but does not actually reflect the value of the precious metal contained therein. On May 11, 2011, Utah became the first state to accept these coins as the value of the precious metal in common transactions. The Utah State Treasurer assigns a numerical precious metal value to these coins each week based on the spot metal prices.

Type Diameter Fineness Face Value Content
American Silver Eagle 40.6 mm 999 fine silver $1 1.00 ozt (31.10 g)
American Gold Eagle 16.5 mm
22.0 mm
27.0 mm
32.7 mm
916 fine gold (22 karat) $5
0.10 ozt (3.11 g)
0.25 ozt (7.78 g)
0.50 ozt (15.55 g)
1.00 ozt (31.10 g)
American Platinum Eagle 16.5 mm
22.0 mm
27.0 mm
32.7 mm
999.5 fine platinum $10
0.10 ozt (3.11 g)
0.25 ozt (7.78 g)
0.50 ozt (15.55 g)
1.00 ozt (31.10 g)
American Palladium Eagle 32.7 mm 999.5 fine palladium $25 1.00 ozt (31.10 g)
American Buffalo 32.7 mm 999.9 fine gold (24 karat) $50 1.00 ozt (31.10 g)
America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins 76.2 mm 999 fine silver 25¢ 5.00 ozt (155.52 g)

Commemorative coins[edit]

Modern commemoratives have been minted since 1982. An incomplete list is available here.

Composition of US Modern Commemorative Coins
Type Total Weight Diameter Composition Face Value Precious Metal Content
Half Dollar 11.34 g 30.61 mm (1.205 in) Cu 92%, Ni 8% 50¢ none
12.50 g Ag 90%, Cu 10% silver 10.25374 (~0.36169 ozt)
Dollar 26.73 g 38.1 mm (1.500 in) Ag 90%, Cu 10% $1 silver 24.057 g (~0.773 ozt)
Half Eagle 8.539 g 21.59 mm (0.850 in) Au 90%, Ag 6%, Cu 4% $5 gold 7.523 g (~0.2418 ozt)
Eagle 16.718 g 26.92 mm (1.060 in) Au 90%, Ag 6%, Cu 4% $10 gold 15.05 g (~0.484 ozt)
First Spouse Eagle Bullion 14.175 g 26.49 mm (1.043 in) Au 99.99% $10 gold 14.175 g (~0.456 ozt)

Obsolete coins[edit]

Note: It is a common misconception that "eagle"-based nomenclature for gold U.S. coinage was merely slang. The "eagle," "half-eagle" and "quarter-eagle" were specifically given these names in the Coinage Act of 1792. Likewise, the double eagle was specifically created as such by name ("An Act to authorize the Coinage of Gold Dollars and Double Eagles", title and section 1, March 3, 1849).

Some modern commemorative coins have been minted in the silver dollar, half-eagle and eagle denominations.

See also US coin sizes, showing all major U.S. coin series and scaled images in a single chart.

The law governing obsolete, mutilated, and worn coins and currency, including types which are no longer in production (e.g. Indian cents), can be found in 31 U.S.C. § 5120.

Mill coins[edit]

Although the term mill (or mille) was defined in the eighteenth century as ​11,000 of a dollar or 0.1¢, no coin smaller than 0.5¢ has ever been officially minted in the U.S. However, unofficial mill coins, also called "tenth cent" or "tax-help coins", made of diverse materials—plastic, wood, tin, and others—were produced as late as the 1960s by some states, localities, and private businesses for tax payments and to render change for small purchases.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "United States Philadelphia Mint Facility". United States Mint. Retrieved 2011-05-25.
  2. ^ "Denver Mint Facility". United States Mint. Retrieved 2011-05-25.
  3. ^ "United States Mint at San Francisco". United States Mint. Retrieved 2011-05-25.
  4. ^ "West Point Mint Facility". United States Mint. Retrieved 2011-05-25.
  5. ^ 31 U.S.C. § 5112
  6. ^ "Coin Specifications". United States Mint. Retrieved 2011-05-27.
  7. ^ Native American $1 Coin

External links[edit]