The Coinage of The United States

Get to Know the Coins of the United States Coins

One of the joys of collecting United States coins is the great diversity of coins that you can collect. From modern date coins to obsolete denominations, the variety and challenges that make up collecting United States coins can keep your interest in coin collecting going for lifetime.

Below are listed the different denominations and types of coins that have been produced since the inception of the United States Mint in 1792.  Some coins are grouped by denomination, while other coins are grouped...MORE by coin type. Enjoy browsing through this list as you decide which United States coins you will collect next.

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    Half Cents

    Examples of Liberty Cap half cents.
    Examples of Liberty Cap half cents. Image Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries, www.ha.com

    The United States half cent is the smallest denomination ever minted by the United States. it was first produced in 1793 as authorized by the Coinage Act of 1792 on April 2, 1972.  All coins were made with 100% copper and minted at the Philadelphia Mint. Coinage was discontinued by the congressional act of February 21, 1857. Most of these early coins were produced from coin dies that were made by hand and used until they broke or wore out.  Therefore, you can find many different types of...MORE varieties and errors that do not exist in other United States coin series.

  • 02 of 12

    Large Cents

    1808 United States Large Cent
    1808 United States Large Cent. Image Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries, www.ha.com

     one cent coins and half cents were the first coin struck for circulation by the United States mint in 1793. Large cents were produced in every year from 1793 until 1857 with the exception of 1815. These classic United States coins are highly collectible and have numerous die varieties just like the half cents because each die was unique in that it was handmade.

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    Small Cents

    Various small cents from the United States mint.
    Various small cents from the United States mint. Images Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries, www.ha.com

     beginning around 1800, the price of copper was rapidly rising. It wouldn't be long before the value of the copper in a coin would be worth more than its face value. In 1856 the United States produced its first small cent coin made out of an alloy of copper and nickel. Soon the Indian head Penny would replace the flying Eagle cent. in 1909 the first Lincoln cent was produced and the obverse design is still being used more than 100 years later.

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    Two Cents Pieces

    1864 United States Two Cent Piece
    1864 United States Two Cent Piece. Image Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries, www.ha.com

    Congress passed a law on April 22, 1864 which changed the weight and composition of the one set coin. Included in this law was a provision to also mint a two cent piece. This coin is one of the shortest lived issues in the history of the United States mint. The shield device on the obverse of the coin is very similar to the one that is used on the nickel five cent pieces that were first minted in 1866.

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  • 05 of 12

    Three Cents

    1858 Silver Three Cent Coin
    1858 Silver Three Cent Coin. Image Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries, www.ha.com

     in 1851 the United States mint made its smallest physical coin ever. Also known as a trime or fishscale, these coins were only 14 mm in diameter. The first issues were made with 75% silver through 1873. Then in 1865 a different design and composition was introduced that was made with 75% copper and 25% nickel and had a diameter of 17.9 mm.

  • 06 of 12

    Half Dimes and Nickels - Five Cent Pieces

    Examples of U.S. Nichols and Half Dimes
    Examples of U.S. Nichols and Half Dimes. Image Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries, www.ha.com

    One of the first coins ever struck by the United States was a 1792 half dime. It is rumored that George Washington used his silverware to make these coins at a metalsmith shop in Philadelphia. Half dimes continue to be made until 1873. Due to the rising cost of silver five cent pieces known as "nickels" were first made in 1866.

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    Dimes - Ten Cents

    Various United States dimes
    Various United States Dimes. Image Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries, www.ha.com and Stack's Bowers Galleries, www.stacksbowers.com

    Dimes or ten cent pieces were also one of the first coins made in the United States beginning in 1796. The design used on these early coins were very similar to all silver coins minted in the late 1700s. Coinage of dimes continues through today even though the design has changed several times over the years.

  • 08 of 12

    Twenty Cents

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    Liberty Seated Twenty Cent Piece Uncirculated. Image Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries, Ha.com

     another short-lived series of United States coin was the Liberty Seated twenty cent piece. It was minted for only three years (1875-1878) and authorized by an act of Congress on March 3, 1875. This political boondoggle was a result of Silver barons putting pressure on the United States legislature. This coin met its demise when it was frequently confused with a quarter.

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  • 09 of 12

    Quarter Dollars

    National Parks Quarter Program
    Examples of the National Parks Quarter Program. Images Courtesy of: The United States Mint, www.usmint.gov

    The quarter dollar coin or twenty-five cent pieces is known as the "workhorse" of the United States economy. First minted in silver in 1796 it continues to be used frequently today. Although the design changed infrequently over its first 200 years of its existence, in 1999 the most popular series of coins ever created by the United States Mint, The 50 State Quarters Program, took the United States by storm.

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    Half Dollars

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    A Modern Kennedy Half-Dollar and a Classic Franklin Half Dollar. Images Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries, Ha.com

     half dollars have been minted by the United States since 1794. It's classic design and heraldic Eagle has graced its existence since the very beginning of its manufacture. Currently, Pres. John F. Kennedy is commemorated on this coin since his assassination in November 1963.

  • 11 of 12

    One Dollar

    First minted in 89.2% fine silver in 1795, this was the coin of choice for large financial transactions in the early stages of the United States. Over time the dollar has lost his purchasing power and became less important in commerce. The Morgan silver dollar and the Peace silver dollar or two of the most popular series of United States coins to collect.

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    Gold Coins

    1932 St. Gaudens Double Eagle $20 Gold Piece
    1932 St. Gaudens Double Eagle $20 Gold Piece. Image Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries, www.ha.com

    The first gold coin established by the United States was a $10 gold piece known as an "Eagle". Subsidiary gold coinage was classified as fractional Eagles based upon the ten dollar standard gold piece. The following gold coins have been produced by the United States Mint:

    • $1.00
    • $2.50  - Quarter Eagles
    • $3 Gold 
    • $4 Gold (Proof Only)
    • $5 - Half Eagles
    • $10 - Eagles
    • $20 - Double Eagles