mint mark

What are Mint Marks and Why are they Important

mint mark

Mint Marks are the tiny letters referring to the locality where the minting of coins took place. The position of mint mark can be found typically on the back side of coins that were minted before the year 1965 and on the front after the year 1967.

Coins of every US mint branch are recognized by mint marks.

The “Director of the Mint”, through the “Act of March 3, 1835”, set rules to classify and distinguish the coins released from every US Mint branch. This core management set accurate standards and pattern of production as well as responsible coinage.

Mintmarks that appear on US coins include:

  • C: Charlotte (Gold only, 1838-1861)
  • CC: Carson City (1870-1893)
  • D: Dahlonega, Georgia (Gold only, 1838-1861)
  • D: Denver (1906 to date; easily distinguishable from Dahlonega because of the different timeframes in which the mints operated)
  • O: New Orleans (1838-1909)
  • P: Philadelphia (Silver “Nickels” 1942-45; Dollar coins 1979 to date; other coins except cents 1980 to date. Although the Philadelphia mint has been operating continuously since 1793, most Philadelphia coins do not have a mintmark)
  • S: San Francisco (1854 to date. Now mints collector coins only. The last circulating coin to bear an ‘S’ mintmark was the 1980-S SBA Dollar)
  • W: West Point (1983 to date; collector coins only)

 

mint marks

All dies for US coins are produced at the Philadelphia Mint and prior to shipping the coins to their mint branch, coins are marked first with the correct and designated mint markings. The precise size and positioning of the coins’ mint mark can slightly vary; this is influenced by how deep the punch was impressed and where.

The importance of mint marks:

Collectors can determine the value of a coin though mint mark, date and condition examination, making the coins condition the most significant factor and standard when determining its value.  Different mints produce a different quantity of coins and therefore some coins from mints having smaller quantities can be more valuable.

Grading Coins with Ease!


GovMint.com
Coin collection is not just about having as many coins as possible. More important than the number of coins is the quality of those coins. This quality is measured by the coins’ grade and the grade is measured using a scale from zero to seventy (seventy being the highest point grade). Doctor William Shelby introduced this point scale in his work “Penny Whimsy”.

Here are the classifications of coins according to grade.

1. “Mint State” Coins

This is equivalent to a value of 60 to 70 in the Shelby’s grade scale. This means that the coin has no blemishes whatsoever. Most of the coins in this category are uncirculated, shiny, new coins, with absolutely no signs of wear.

2. “Almost Uncirculated” Coins

The “Almost Uncirculated” coins have a point grade of 50, 55, or 58.

It is very important to note that in these coins, coin collectors must know the locations of the high points in a particular coin. By checking the difference of the light reflected in the high points to the other parts of the coin, an “Almost Uncirculated” coin is separated from the Mint State coins.

3. “Fine Coins”

These can further be classified as” Extremely Fine” (40, 45), “Very Fine” (20, 25, 30, and 35) or “Fine” (12) depending on the sharpness of the remaining details on the coins. The coins are observed to have wear but the designs are still intact.

For “Extremely Fine” coins, the mint luster is still present.

“Very Fine” coins can be compared to coins which have been used for 1-3 years. Minor features of the coins are already gone.

4. “Good Coins”

These coins can be specifically defined as “Very Good” (12), “Good” and “Almost Good” coins.

The coins in this category are worn out. Only weak designs can be observed since the details of the coins in the high points are nearly smooth.

Full rims must be observed for the “Very Good” coins category.

In the case of “Good” coins, the mint mark and the date must be visible.

On the other hand, “Almost Good” coins are the most worn of coins in this category.

5. “Fair Coins”

The coins are “worn out”, but can still be distinguished as belonging to one of the types of coins – as long as one can identify a coin, it is a “Fair C”.

6. “Basal Coin”

These metals that can be determined to be coins – but the kind of coin are undeterminable.

With the classifications described, it will be very easy to grade coins. Just remember that knowledge of the coins’ grades gives coin collectors advantages!