mint marks

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.

What Types of Coins Do Collectors Love?

Simplicity is not the best policy when it comes to coin collecting. Oftentimes it is the rareness, the history, or the mother country of the coins that collectors value most.

Here is a variety of coins that “coinophiles” are obsessed with:

National Coins: Patriotism in Coins

Usually, national coin collectors are interested in collecting their own country’s coins. It is common practice for collectors of national coins to get a representative coin from each date and mint marks for each coin series. Various national coin collectors combine a unique variation of series, date and mint marks.

Error Coins: It’s OK to be Not-So-OK

One of the modern types of coin collecting is known as error coin collecting. Errors became possible when the production of coins was automated during the nineteenth century. Collectors of historic coins are fine with error coins because they like the uniqueness or error coins. Even modern day coin collector falls in love with error coins because they are assured that the modern processes promise that they are unique. The characteristics or coin errors include the following:

  • dies that are doubled
  • mint marks that are repunched
  • over-dated
  • double strikes
  • coins that are “off” metal
  • coins that are displaced or off center
  • coins that are clipped
  • one coin with different nominations on two sides a.k.a. mules

World Coins: Hobby of Kings…. of the World

Collecting world coins is about gathering those modern coins from all the countries of the world. Geographically-challenged individuals will have a hard time participating in this kind of coin collecting. If you would like to be a collector of world coins, you must be prepared to spend a considerable amount of money if you would want to have an extensive collection – being a “jetsetter” might be required. World coin collectors often acquire representative coins from each country or from authorities that issue coins. There are also world coin collectors that collect by subject such as those coins that feature animals.

Historical Coins: The Value of the Past

Collectors of historic coins find value in mints that are from medieval or ancient times. The most popular of these historic coins include the following:

  • Byzantine
  • Celtic
  • Greek
  • Indian
  • Israelite
  • Merovingian
  • Ostrogothic

There are other ancient coin specialties but it really depends on the preferences of the collectors. The popular way is to collect the coins that were minted during the reign of a certain emperor or king.

ISN Modern Coins is a trusted premier Modern coins dealer specializing in the sale of high grade modern day graded and certified government struck coins from around the world. Their wide variety of coins include but is not limited to “Mint State” and “Proof” American Silver Eagles, Australian Koala’s, Chinese Pandas, Lunar Series Coins and much more. No matter your coin need ISN Modern Coins more than likely can fill it.

Wanna Start Collecting Coins?

There are many reasons why one collects coins. There are collectors who collect on the basis of the coin’s future perceived value, some collect coins coming from just one particular period, some on metal type and some for a coins historical value.

There are also those who enjoy collecting everyday common coins, gaining pleasure from inspecting mint marks and dates on their everyday change. Others have a collection of coins coming from different countries. Some coin collectors spend thousands on rare gold and silver coins from the period of the 1800’s until the early 1900’s.

The hobby of coin collecting can give pleasure and fun to an individual of any age. Many coin collectors began their collection when they were young children, collecting dimes or pennies and many of them have made coin collection a lifetime hobby.

The hobby of collecting coins involves spending money from the very start so it is good to join a coin collectors group to get ideas and help from knowledgeable and experienced collectors.

You need somebody to buy your coins from, and it may be hard to find a coin dealer of good repute when your are new to the hobby, so having someone that has been in this hobby for years can be of great help to guide you on choosing an honest and knowledgeable coin dealer.


Begin by acquiring a big magnifying glass and examine coins in a bright area so you can spot mintmarks, errors and to clearly read dates on worn or damaged coins.

Decide on what coins to collect and buy a “bookshelf folder” for that series.

You must also have storage, such as clear tubes made of plastic or coin tubes having top screws to keep your coins in until you are ready to put them in a coin album; storage can also be good for keeping duplicate coins.

You must learn about different coin values. Follow what types of coins are sold, and how they are priced, based on dealer pricing. You also will need someone or some references that will show you how to evaluate the accurate value of a certain coin based on mint mark, age, color, surface and condition.


“A Guide Book of United States Coins” or universally known as “the red book”, which is published yearly, provides a good outline of the U.S. coins history, information on basic coin grading, coin descriptions from past to present including a list of errors to watch for, average U.S. coins retail cost, and an explanation of errors which occurred in the “minting process”.

Monthly publications from “Coinage” (coin collecting magazine) contain many useful facts and information as well articles about your new found hobby plus a lot of great photos.

The newspaper, particularly in the numismatic world section, will be of great interest to you especially when you become more and more involved and interested in your hobby and want to remain up to date with the present happenings in the world of numismatics.

As you grow more experienced in coin collecting, your “eye for coins” will improve and develop maturely so that you now will be scrutinizing more carefully the features and details such as coin lettering, making certain that the letters are not blemished or blurred, but are still distinguishable.

You will be spending so much interest and concentration on the coin’s general state that eventually you can walk away from certain coins that show evidence of abrasion, and will then be experiencing the fun side of coin collecting.

Spend ample time reading, looking at photos, learning from experienced collectors and asking as many questions as needed from not only other collectors, but dealers as well. The hobby of coin collecting is a continuing process that will last for as long as you are continuing the hobby.

Your knowledge and training will save you a lot of money as well as make you money when the time comes, but more importantly, have fun while learning. Take pleasure in what they call the “Hobby of kings” that has turned to be the “King”of hobbies.

Keep on studying and learning, because the better you understand, the more that you will enjoy your new found hobby.

ISN Modern Coins is a trusted premier Modern coins dealer specializing in the sale of high grade modern day graded and certified government struck coins from around the world. Their wide variety of coins include but is not limited to “Mint State” and “Proof” American Silver Eagles, Australian Koala’s, Chinese Pandas, Lunar Series Coins and much more. No matter your coin need ISN Modern Coins more than likely can fill it.