US coins and the US Mint is an article for anyone who is interested in numismatics. The history behind a country's coins. Where they came from and some of the ideas behind the designs.
Many new collectors and investors are entering the market for this limited collectible commodity and nice examples are disappearing from the market at an alarming rate.
The US Mint opened its doors in the year 1793. A young country needed coinage to conduct commerce on a daily basis. A shortage of money necessitated the use of the barter system and people traded goods and services with each other in the place of money.
Up to the inception of the US Mint, foreign coins, plus state issues and private coins, circulated throughout the region. These coins varied in size, composition and weight, causing a lack of standardization and valuation.
Some copper cents struck by individual state governments attempted to fill the gap. Private companies began to mint their own tokens for customers to use within their establishment. A need for a standardized currency became overwhelming and in 1792 the federal government authorized the coinage process to begin.
The first official US Mint was opened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in early 1793 and half cents and large cents were the first coins struck. Copper was the metal that was to be used and the large cent was to weigh exactly twice that of the half cent.
Throughout the year half cents were produced to the sum of 35,334 examples, large cents followed with approximately 110,000 planchets being made into copper cents.
1793 copper cents and half cents are all extremely rare today. Being the first year of issue for a coin, is always a plus. The first year of issue and the first coin struck by a country like the United States, makes them irresistible to collectors and investors alike.
Copper cents and half cents were produced until 1857 when the cent was reduced to the size they are at the present time and the half cent was discontinued completely. An era ended for these well loved numismatic works of art that are to this day one of the most popular collectibles throughout the world.
In 1794 other denominations began to be struck by the US Mint. Half dimes, half dollars and dollars all came out with their respective artwork. All depicting images of Liberty and the motto In God We Trust. The denomination was boldly displayed.
The output from this year was also very minimal and the finest known dollar coins holds records for the most expensive US obsolete coin. Collectors are hard pressed to find examples with this date in any condition and all coins entering the market will attract a large group of customers, or bidders if an auction setting is the venue.
In 1796 dimes and quarters made their appearance and now collectors had the makings of a year set. One coin from each denomination for the year in question. A popular way of collecting US coins to this day high grade year sets from the seventeen hundreds are now so expensive, they are often placed within a retirement portfolio or just bought as an investment to resell.
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Another absolute rarity was created. Less then 9,000 half eagles were made and the eagle was reported at 5,583. A much lower number is thought to exist and some say as low as twenty percent.
Other denominations of US coins that have been struck throughout its three hundred+ year history include a two cent piece for the years 1864 to 1873, A silver three cent piece from 1851 to 1873, a nickel three cent piece from 1865 to 1889, a five cent nickel, from 1866 to date, A twenty cent coin was produced from 1875 to 1878 and is probably the most unknown US coin.
Gold coins following the half eagle and eagle consisted of a one dollar piece, a two dollar and fifty cent quarter eagle, a three dollar piece, a four dollar gold coin was also made for a very limited time. And eventually a twenty dollar double eagle was produced.
US gold coins are all 900 fine 22 karat gold. Until 1933, the United States was on a gold standard and money issued was backed by the metal. Weight of the gold coin was tied to its value and this factor was changed often to come in line over the years on all denominations.
As time went on and the population expanded throughout the United States, new mint offices were opened. Scattered from the east coast to the west coast, they enlarged production expanding their capabilities to supply an enlarging population with the coinage they needed,
Mints were opened in New Orleans, Louisiana; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Dahlonega, Georgia. Later Carson City, Nevada; Denver, Colorado; and San Francisco, California were added. There is also a mint located at West Point that strikes proof coins. All of these locations have struck coins for circulation in the United States at varying times in history and all of them have created their share of rarities.
Some people will collect coins from only one mint and this can be a very challenging endeavor to say the least. Type sets are put together collecting different designs in a certain denomination. The possible variables when deciding to collect coins is endless and will depend on the area of the individual collectors interest.
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They have a well maintained and up to date website that is easy to navigate and filled with information on their products both now and throughout their history.
Statistical information is available for all the different coins they issue like mintage numbers and issue price. Photos of all the different mint locations and the coin minting process itself are available and there's a virtual tour you can take.
Becoming a member of the website will get you e-mail updates to let you know when new mint products are being released. US coins and the US Mint can be fun for young and old, or a hedge against inflation.
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