12 Interesting Facts About American Coins

March 22, 2016

Old American Coins


The U.S. Mint’s first production in 1793 consisted of 11,178 copper cents. Today the Mint produces an average of 14.7 million coins per day.


How many paper bills does the Mint print every year? Not a single note. (That’s the job of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.)

(3) Isabella Quarter 1893

The first real woman (not a symbolic figure) on an American commemorative coin was also the only foreign woman— Queen Isabella of Spain, on an 1893 quarter dollar.


By law, the design for U.S. coins must feature “an impression emblematic of liberty.”


Why did the Indian Head cent make way for the Lincoln penny in 1909? To commemorate Honest Abe’s 100th birthday. The Lincoln Memorial on the back was added for his 150th in 1959.

(6) 1909 lincoln penny

That 1909 Lincoln penny was the first circulating (noncommemorative) American coin to depict a real person.


When the U.S. Mint began in the 1790s, one of the places it bought copper was from a firm owned by Paul Revere.


First African American to be depicted on an American coin: Booker T. Washington, on a half-dollar coin, 1946–51. (First African American on a U.S. postage stamp: Booker T. Washington, 1940, 10¢.)


The U.S. Mint has made coins for more than 40 foreign countries. Venezuela was the first, in 1875.


First commemorative coin in U.S. history: The 1892 Columbian Exposition half-dollar, marking the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the Americas.
1892 columbian expediation coin front and back


From 1873 to 1878, the U.S. Mint produced a silver dollar exclusively for trade with China.


The 1792 law establishing the U.S. Mint made defacing, counterfeiting, or embezzling of coins by Mint employees punishable by death.
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