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Coins and the need for coins goes back more than 3,100 years. A tomb of the Chinese Shang Dynasty dating back to the 11th century BC shows what may be the first cast copper money called Tong Bei. Coinage was in widespread use by the period of the Warring States and the Han Dynasty. Coins have been in demand ever since. They are minted in, or for, every country in the world. Also, each country has several kinds of coins resulting in a vast number of coins. Some coins have been melted down, their contents used to mint new coins and some coins have been lost, never to be found.

Collecting coins has been around nearly as long as coins. The hobby has been called the "Hobby of Kings". This may cause one to believe that collecting coins is a expensive hobby. While this can be true (depending on the nature of your hobby), it does not have to be expensive. Contrary to that name, Numismatics is a rewarding and educational hobby available to almost everyone and is limited only by how much or how little a person wishes to invest.

We at TheCoinSpot.com wish to serve as a coin reference to collectors interested in coins minted in The United States of America. As time goes by we will be adding more information and other kinds of coins, such as pattern coins, bullion coins and eventually oddity coins such as Hobo Nickels or Frontier Coins. For now, we will start with coins minted for circulation and commemorative coins in The United States.

Let us start with some background information about U.S. Coins........

Congressional Coinage Intent

Even before the Mint first began production, congress was well aware of the need to maintain the integrity of American coinage. Coins were Americas face to the world: not only did they need to be the correct weight; it was equally important they appeared trustworthy and well established. The technical need to prepare the gold and silver planchets was easy to maintain, however, design was quite a different matter. Earlier criticism of the first coins made congress very sensitive to the ridicule they could face when designer intent was misunderstood. The Chain cent had been a fiasco; the interlocking links (intended to show unity) were seen by the public as a symbol of the chains of slavery. The Mint could not afford mistakes or misunderstanding in either weight or design.

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Everyone understood that design is mostly a matter of opinion, but the metal content of coins is a different matter: There is no room for mistakes or even a small impropriety. Congress was very clear on this point when it passed the Coinage Act of 1792 that required a $10,000 personal bonds for each Mint officer holding a fiscally responsible position. Unable to raise such a staggering sum, The Chief Coiner and Assayer, in charge of supplies of bullion and coins on hand, was unable to mint coinage of silver and gold. Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and President George Washington urged Congress to relented from its demands and lower the bond requirements to a less restrictive level. Eventually, Congress complied with the requests and the bonds were posted, and production of silver coins began with the half dollar and dollar, gold coins (for technical reasons) had to wait until the next year.

Mark  Mint Location  Dates of Operation
NonePhiladelphia, PA1793-present
CCharlotte, NC1838-1861
DDahlonega, GA1838-1861
ONew Orleans, LA1838-1861; 1879-1909
SSan Francisco, CA1854-1955; 1968-present
CCCarson City, NV1870-1893
DDenver, CO1906-present

The coins of each mint can be identified since most coins bear a identifying mint mark. The mark of each mint can usually be found on the front of most coins near the date. Coins with no mark are issued by the Philadelphia mint. After 1979, coins minted in Philadelphia bear a letter P. Exceptions to this are the one cent, which display no mint mark when made by the Philadelphia mint, and silver five cent coins of WWII that has a P mint mark. Denver coins have a letter D, San Francisco coins have a letter S, and West Point coins bear the letter W, but, West Point coins are rarely found in general circulation since West Point usually only mint proof and/or bullion coins.

S mint coins (San Francisco) prior to the mid-1970's were intended for circulation but after that time, S minted coins are proof coins only. The CC, O, C, and D mint marks were used on gold and silver coins in the mid-nineteenth century. Charlotte, Dahlonega and New Orleans mint were closed because of the Civil War. Only New Orleans was ever reopened, and continued production until very early in the twentieth century when it was again closed.

The mints in Carson City, Nevada - New Orleans, Louisiana - Charlotte, North Carolina and Dahlonega, Georgia; were considered temporary mints. Coins from these mints now exist only in the hands of collectors and museums and are never found in circulation. With the opening of the Denver mint, the D mint mark did return in 1906.

Current Coinage In America

Today four mints are in operation in the United States, they produce billions of coins annually. The oldest, and main mint, is in Philadelphia, it produces circulating coinage, mint sets and some commemorative coins. Like Philadelphia, the Denver Mint also produces circulating coinage, mint sets and commemorative's. The San Francisco Mint produced circulating coinage until the 1970's, now it produces primarily silver proof coins. The West Point Mint produces bullion and proof coinage. In addition to coins, Philadelphia and Denver mints also produce the dies used to make coins.

Commemorative coins have been produced (off and on) since 1892, this is assuming that the 1848 "CAL" Quarter Eagle ($2½ gold coin) is not a commemorative coin. In recent year, two commemoratives have been minted per year, but, this is can vary.

New coins are produced annually since 1792 and make up a valuable part of the United States currency system. Current circulating coin denominations are 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢, and $1.00. There has been government sponsored studies that recommend discontinuing production of the one cent coin and the paper one dollar. Whether or not these studies will be followed has yet to be determined. Bullion coins (including gold, silver and platinum) and commemorative coins continue to be minted by the United States Mint. At present, coins are sold to Federal Reserve Banks who are responsible for putting them into circulation and withdrawing them as needed.

Currently, several series coins are being issued. These coins blur the definitions of circulating coins and commemorative coins. Series included into this group are the State quarter dollars, Territorial quarter dollars, America the Beautiful® quarter dollars, Presidential dollars and Native American dollar. These series are presented as regular circulation coins, with slight differences in presentation.

Obsolete Circulation Coins

A number of coins that are no longer minted (obsolete coins) are included on this website. Examples are the Half Cent, Two Cent, Three Cent, Half Dime, Twenty Cent and gold coins (not included are most bullion coins). While gold coins are considered obsolete, a notable omission from the list is the Four Dollar Gold Stella. The reason for the omission is that it was a pattern coin and never intended for circulation.

Scope of TheCoinSpot.com

The coins covered on this website will be limited to U.S. circulating coins (coins intended to be circulated) and U.S. commemorative coins issued by the U.S. Mint. Coins omitted are tax tokens, tokens, private issued coins, colonial coins, coins issued by states or territories, coins issued by or for Native American tribs, bullion coins, patterns coins, proof coins and Presentation coins. These coins and tokens will be reserved for our sister sites, or for future expansion. Mint error coins will be included only if the error is well enough known or issued extensively.

Pricing information is notably absent. Prices may change from hour to hour, place to place and person to person, therefore it is virtually impossible to be both accurate and current. What others are willing to pay is easily obtainable on various auction sites. Common wisdom will tell the collector, "A coin is worth what you are willing to pay for it." We at TheCoinSpot.com hope you can find your coin for less than you are willing to pay. ☺

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