Learning About Mint Marks
The reverence for gold, silver and other coins goes back to ancient civilizations where they served both as a means of exchange and a symbol of power. The Greeks made distinct marks on their coins in reference to the magistrate in charge of its production. Taking a look at coins from those days to modern times it is obvious that there is reasoning behind mint marks.
For the Greeks, magistrate marks or mint marks as we know them today had various purposes:
· It was easy to identify a person in charge of production in case of problems with the coins.
· Mint marks made it easy to pursue dishonest magistrates who would debase coins.
The Second World War brought restrictions to the use of metal in 1942 and this greatly affected Philadelphia, the only Mint operating at the time. This situation made them change the 5-cent piece from the regular copper-nickel alloy to another comprised of silver, copper and manganese. To distinguish the two, the new coin had a letter P mint mark on it.
In 1965, there was a Coinage Act that approved dropping of mint marks from coins and even gave Mints the green light to replace silver with copper-nickel. This was prompted by constant coin shortages. In those days, people tried to cling to limited strikes and, as a result, it is very hard to tell which coins were minted in 1965-1967. The marks returned one year later, but the location of these marks changed from the reverse to the front facing side. During this time, however, the Philadelphia Mint was still producing coins without the marks.
The coin shortage struck San Francisco in the mid-1970’s, prompting the San Francisco Assay Office to make some coins without mint marks.
Things in Philadelphia changed in 1979 when they produced the Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coin with the distinct P. In 1980, the Mint put their marks on all denominations of coins, save for the one-cent.
Sometimes mint marks are used by Mints in celebration of certain events. The 1984 $10 Gold Eagle coins have a W mint mark commemorating the Los Angeles Olympic Games. After this, the West Point Mint made a habit of using the same mark on their bullion and commemorative coins. The 1996-W Roosevelt Dime is part of an Uncirculated Mint set celebrating the 50th anniversary of the coins’ design. Notably, however, is that coins produced by this Mint for circulation bear no mint mark.
Today the Royal Canadian Mint coins can easily be identified by their fireworks mint mark. Limited editions of coins often bear different marks compared to those in circulation. The reasoning behind mint marks makes them even more fascinating and unique for avid collectors. All coins in the world have a rich history that can be learned from the marks on them. Understanding the meaning behind mint marks is an exciting way of identifying coins worthy of your collection. Visit us for some more information about coins. We have a rich collection that you will be delighted with and can buy for yourself or a loved one.
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