The Coinage of The United States

Get to Know the Coins of the United States Coins

coins of the United States.

Nodar Chernishev / EyeEm / Getty Images

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 by coin type. Enjoy browsing through this list as you decide which United States coins you will collect next.

  • 01 of 12

    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 of half cents 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 varieties and errors that do not exist in other United States coin series.

    The United States Mint made half cents in the following years:

    • 1793-1793 Liberty Cap - Head Facing Left
    • 1794-1794 Liberty Cap - Lrg. Head Right Facing
    • 1795-1797 Liberty Cap - Sm. Head Right Facing
    • 1800-1808 Draped Bust
    • 1809-1836 Classic Head
    • 1840-1857 Braided Hair (Coronet) 
  • 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 coins struck for circulation by the United States mint in 1793. Large cents were produced in every year from 1793 until 1857 except for 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.

    The United States Mint made large cents in the following years:

    • 1793-1793 Flowing Hair - Chain AMERICA Reverse
    • 1793-1793 Flowing Hair - Wreath Reverse
    • 1793-1795 Liberty Cap - Thin Planchet
    • 1795-1796 Liberty Cap - Heavy Planchet
    • 1796-1807 Draped Bust 
    • 1808-1814 Classic Head
    • 1816-1835 Coronet/Matron Head 
    • 1836-1839 Coronet/Matron Head - Modified ("Young Head")
    • 1839-1857 Braided Hair 
  • 03 of 12

    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.

    Small Cents were minted in the following years:

    • 1856-1858 Flying Eagle
    • 1859-1859 Indian Head - Laurel Wreath (no shield)
    • 1860-1864 Indian Head - Oak Wreath; Copper-Nickel
    • 1864-1909 Indian Head - Oak Wreath; Bronze
    • 1909-1909 Lincoln - Wheat Ears; V.D.B.
    • 1909-1942 & 1944-1958 Lincoln - Wheat Ears
    • 1943-1943 Lincoln - Wheat Ears; Zinc-Coated Steel
    • 1959-1982 Lincoln - Memorial; Bronze
    • 1982-2008 Lincoln - Memorial; Copper Coated Zinc
    • 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial Penny
    • 2010-Today Lincoln - Shield Reverse
  • 04 of 12

    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. The United States Mint produced two-cent pieces from 1864 until 1872.

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 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 fish scale, 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 were 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.

    Half Dime
    • 1792-1792 Half Disme
    • 1794-1795 Flowing Hair
    • 1796-1797 Draped Bust - Small Eagle
    • 1800-1805 Draped Bust - Heraldic Eagle
    • 1829-1837 Capped Bust
    • 1837-1838 Seated Liberty - No Stars
    • 1838-1840 Seated Liberty - Stars; No Drapery
    • 1840-1853 Seated Liberty - Stars; Drapery
    • 1853-1855 Seated Liberty - Stars; Drapery; Arrows at Date
    • 1860-1873 Seated Liberty - Legend Obv; Drapery; No Arrows
    Nickels
    • 1866-1867 Shield - With Rays
    • 1867-1883 Shield - Without Rays
    • 1883-1883 Liberty Head - Without CENTS
    • 1883-1913 Liberty Head - With CENTS
    • 1913-1913 Indian Head (or Buffalo) - Raised Mound (Type 1)
    • 1913-1938 Indian Head (or Buffalo) - Flat Ground (Type 2)
    • 1938-1942 Jefferson - Monticello Reverse
    • 1942-1945 Jefferson - Wartime Alloy
    • 2004-2004 Jefferson - Peace Medal Reverse
    • 2004-2004 Jefferson - Keelboat Reverse
    • 2005-2005 Jefferson - Large Portrait; American Bison
    • 2005-2005 Jefferson - Large Portrait; Ocean in View
    • 2006-Today Jefferson - Large Portrait; New Monticello
  • 07 of 12

    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.

    The United States Mint made the following types of dimes.

    • 1796-1797 Draped Bust - Small Eagle
    • 1798-1807 Draped Bust - Heraldic Eagle
    • 1809-1828 Capped Bust - Open Collar
    • 1828-1837 Capped Bust - Closed Collar
    • 1837-1838 Seated Liberty - No Stars; No Drapery
    • 1838-1840 Seated Liberty - Stars; No Drapery
    • 1840-1853 Seated Liberty - Stars; Drapery
    • 1853-1855 Seated Liberty - Stars; Drapery; Arrows Date
    • 1860-1873 Seated Liberty - Legend Obv; Drapery; No Arrows
    • 1873-1874 Seated Liberty - Legend Obv; Drapery; Arrows Date
    • 1892-1916 Barber
    • 1916-1945 Winged Liberty (Mercury)
    • 1946-1964 Roosevelt - Silver 90%
    • 1965-Today Roosevelt - Clad
  • 08 of 12

    Twenty Cents

    J-US0020-1876-CC-Twenty-Cent-MS66-lg.jpg
    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.

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 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.

    Here are the different types of quarters manufactured by the United States Mint:

    • 1796-1796 Draped Bust - Small Eagle
    • 1804-1807 Draped Bust - Heraldic Eagle
    • 1815-1828 Capped Bust - Large Diameter (“E Pluribus Unum” above eagle)
    • 1831-1838 Capped Bust - Small Diameter (“E Pluribus Unum” removed)
    • 1838-1840 Seated Liberty - No Drapery; No Rays Rev; No Motto
    • 1840-1853 Seated Liberty - Drapery; No Rays Rev; No Motto
    • 1853-1853 Seated Liberty - Arrows Date; Rays Rev; No Motto
    • 1854-1855 Seated Liberty - Arrows Date; No Rays Rev; No Motto
    • 1866-1873 Seated Liberty - No Arrows; No Rays Rev; Motto
    • 1873-1874 Seated Liberty - Arrows Date; No Rays Rev; Motto
    • 1892-1916 Barber
    • 1916-1917 Standing Liberty - Bare Bosom (Type 1)
    • 1917-1930 Standing Liberty - Covered Bosom (Type 2 & 3)
    • 1932-1964 Washington - Silver 90%
    • 1992-1998 Washington - Silver (proof only)
    • 1965-1975 Washington - Clad
    • 1976-1976 Washington - Bicentennial; Clad
    • 1976-1976 Washington - Bicentennial; Silver Clad 40%
    • 1999-2008 50 State Quarters
    • 2009 D.C. and U.S. Territories - District of Columbia
    • 2010-Today America The Beautiful
  • 10 of 12

    Half Dollars

    US0050-Kennedy-and-Franklin-Half-Dollars.jpg
    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.

    The United States Mint produced the following half dollars:

    • 1794-1795 Flowing Hair
    • 1796-1797 Draped Bust - Small Eagle
    • 1801-1807 Draped Bust - Heraldic Eagle (or Large Eagle)
    • 1807-1836 Capped Bust - Lettered Edge
    • 1836-1836 Capped Bust - Reeded Edge; "50 CENTS"
    • 1837-1837 Capped Bust - Reeded Edge; "50 CENTS"
    • 1838-1839 Capped Bust - Reeded Edge; "HALF DOL."
    • 1839-1839 & 1856-1866 Seated Liberty - No Drapery; No Rays Rev; No Motto
    • 1839-1853 Seated Liberty - Drapery; No Rays Rev; No Motto
    • 1853-1853 Seated Liberty - Arrows Date; Rays Rev; No Motto
    • 1854-1855 Seated Liberty - Arrows Date; No Rays; No Motto
    • 1866-1873 & 1875-1891 Seated Liberty - No Arrows; No Rays Rev; Motto
    • 1873-1874 Seated Liberty - Arrows Date; No Rays Rev; Motto
    • 1892-1915 Barber
    • 1916-1947 Walking Liberty
    • 1948-1963 Franklin
    • 1964-1964 Kennedy - Silver 90% [1964 type]
    • 1965-1970 Kennedy - Silver Clad 40%
    • 1971-1974 & 1977-2014 Kennedy - Clad
    • 1976-1976 Kennedy - Bicentennial; Clad
    • 1976-1976 Kennedy - Bicentennial; Silver Clad 40%
    • 1992-Today Kennedy - Silver 90% (Proof only)
  • 11 of 12

    One Dollar

    Heritage Auction Galleries

    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.

    The following one dollar coins were produced by the United States Mint:

    • 1794-1795 Flowing Hair
    • 1795-1798 Draped Bust - Small Eagle
    • 1798-1804 Draped Bust - Heraldic Eagle
    • 1836-1838 Gobrecht - No Stars Obv.; Stars Rev.
    • 1839-1839 Gobrecht - Stars Obv.; No Stars Rev.
    • 1840-1866 Seated Liberty - No Motto
    • 1866-1873 Seated Liberty - Motto
    • 1873-1885 Trade Dollar
    • 1878-1904 & 1921 Morgan
    • 1921-1921 Peace - High Relief
    • 1922-1935 Peace - Low Relief
    • 1971-1974 & 1977-1978Eisenhower - Clad
    • 1971-1974 Eisenhower - Silver Clad 40%
    • 1976-1976 Eisenhower - Bicentennial; Clad
    • 1976-1976 Eisenhower - Bicentennial; Silver Clad 40%
    • 1979-1981 & 1999 Susan B. Anthony (SBA) - 
    • 2000-2008 Sacagawea
    • 2009-Today Native American
    • 2007-2016 Presidents
    • 2018 - Today American Innovation
  • 12 of 12

    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