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U.S. Coins

While most people think of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters when they think of US coins, the government has produced varieties allowing the collector to choose from many different types of coinage for their collections. If you are a new collector, then there are many different things you need to consider before starting your collection.

What type of coinage has the United States made?

The United States has made commemorative coins and 12 other types of coinage. The first 5-cent piece was produced in 1866, and it was called the shield nickel because it bore the Great Seal of the United States on its front. The first dimes were produced in 1794, and they were made of silver until President Roosevelt began appearing on them in 1964. Mintage of the quarter started in 1796, although it has had many designs throughout history. In addition to these coins, some other types include:

  • Half cent: Produced between 1793 and 1857, this copper money is about the size of a quarter and has a bust of Lady Liberty on the front and a wreath on the back.
  • Large cent: Produced between 1793 and 1857, this copper money was a little bit bigger than quarters.
  • Small cent: Starting in 1857, the government replaced the large cent with the small cent, made of 88% copper and 12% nickel.
  • Two-cent piece: Produced between 1864 and 1873, the two-cent piece was made of copper.
  • Three-cent piece: Produced between 1865 and 1889, this copper and nickel money was the first to be called a nickel.
  • Half dime: Produced between 1793 and 1873, this silver money saw four different designs before production ceased.
  • Twenty-cent piece: This almost-pure silver money appeared only between 1875 and 1878, and it was so close in size to the quarter that people had trouble telling them apart.
  • Half dollar: The first half dollar was made in 1794, and it has had many different designs.
Did the U.S. produce gold coins for regular circulation?

The United States has minted several gold coins for regular circulation between 1849 and 1889, using three different designs, including:

  • Type one: Minted from 1849 to 1854, the obverse of these 13-millimeter coins features Lady Liberty facing to the left surrounded by 13 stars, while the reverse shows a wreath and the words United States of America along the rim and one dollar and the year in the middle.
  • Type two: Minted from 1854 to 1856, Lady Liberty donned an Indian headdress for this 15-millimeter design, while the reverse remains virtually unchanged from type one.
  • Type three: Minted from 1856 to 1889, the front of this coin is similar to the previous one except the headdress is in a more horizontal position. While the government made many of these coins, it only minted 400 in 1875.
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