A specially made coin
distinguished by sharpness of detail and usually with a
brilliant mirror-like surfaces. Proof refers to the method of
manufacture and is not a condition. Pre-1968 proofs were made
only at the Philadelphia Mint except in a few rare instances in
which presentation pieces were struck at branch mints. Current
proofs are made at the San Francisco an West Point mints.
Mintmark: A letter or other mark on a coin
denoting the mint that manufactured the coin.
US coins are
avidly collected by date and mintmark, and the presence or
absence of a mintmark can mean huge differences in the value of
a coin. The 1927 Double Eagle is a relatively humble coin - or
at least as humble as a twenty dollar gold piece can be. The
1927-S is quite a rare coin, with even the worst specimen likely
to bring $5,000 and up at auction. However, the 1927-D is a
tremendous rarity, bringing six figure prices whenever it is
offered. What's the difference between these three coins? The
needs to be able to spot the mintmark both on a coin and within
the coin's description. The latter is easy - the term "1927-D"
means that the coin is dated 1927 and carries a 'D' mintmark. If
the date of a US coin is written without a mintmark, it means
that the coin has no mintmark and was (usually) minted in
Philadelphia. Coins without mintmarks made in Philadelphia are
sometimes referred to as, for example, 1927-P, even though there
may be no mintmark on the coin. Most exceptions to the rule that
US coins without mintmarks are from Philadelphia have occurred
in the last 40 years.
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
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
consider US coins to include issues struck for the Philippines
both under Sovereignty of the US and as a Commonwealth, you
would have to add the 'M' mintmark for the Manila mint to the
For the most
part, mintmarks on circulating coins appear on the reverse of
the coin if the coin was dated 1964 or earlier. No mintmarks
appeared on any US coins dated 1965-67, but in 1968, the four
circulating coins that had not already had an obverse mintmark
had the mintmark moved to the obverse. A good rule of thumb when
searching for a mintmark is to look near the date or at the
bottom of the reverse, often below the wreath or the eagle.
Specific locations of mintmarks on US
circulating coins are as follows:
Half Cent: None
Large Cent: None
Flying Eagle Cent: None
Indian Head Cent: Below the wreath on the
reverse; 1908-S and 1909-S only
Lincoln Cents: Below the date. Philadelphia
mint coins in this series minted today still do not carry a
mintmark; these are the only US circulating coins that bear
The exception is the 2017 P that has the “P”
mint mark celebrating the 200 year anniversary of the United
States Mint. This will only be for the 2017 Lincoln “Sheild”
Two Cent Pieces: None
Silver Three Cent Pieces: To the right of the
'C' on the reverse; 1851-O only
Nickel Three Cent Pieces: None
Shield Nickel: None
Liberty Nickel: Below the dot to the left of
"CENTS" on the reverse; 1912-dated coins only
Buffalo Nickel: Below "FIVE CENTS" on the
reverse. The 'F' below the date (at least when the date is
visible) is the initial of the designer, James Earle Fraser.
Jefferson Nickel: Copper-Nickel pieces dated
1938-42 and 1946-64: to the right of Monticello on the
reverse. Silver pieces dated 1942-45: a large mintmark above
Monticello on the reverse. 1968-2004: Below (clockwise from)
the date. 2005 Redesign: Below the script "Liberty" on the
Early and Bust Half Dimes: None
Seated Liberty Half Dime: Within the wreath
below "HALF DIME" on the reverse 1838-1859, 1870-72. Below
the wreath on the reverse 1860-69, 1872-73.
Early and Bust Dimes: None
Seated Liberty Dime: Within the wreath below
"ONE DIME" on the reverse 1838-1860, part of 1875. Below the
wreath on the reverse 1860-91.
Barber Dime: Below the wreath on the reverse
Mercury Dime: To the right of the word "ONE"
on the reverse. The 'W' in the right obverse field is
actually the AW monogram of the designer, Adolph A. Weinman.
Roosevelt Dime: 1946-64: To the left of the
bottom of the torch on the reverse. 1968 to date: Above the
Twenty Cent Piece: Below the eagle on the
Early and Bust Quarters: None
Seated Liberty Quarter: Below the eagle on the
Barber Quarter: Below the eagle on the
reverse, but often a little skew due to lack of room.
Liberty Standing Quarter: Above and to the
left of the date, immediately to the right of the bottom
star on Liberty's left (facing) side. The incuse 'M' above
and to the right of the date (if visible) and immediately to
the right of the bottom star on Liberty's right (facing)
side is the initial of the coin's designer, Hermon MacNeil.
Washington Quarter: 1932-64: Below the wreath
on the reverse. 1968 to date, including Statehood Quarters:
To the right of Washington's ponytail on the obverse - which
in the case of Statehood quarters is not the dated side of
Early Half Dollar: None
Bust Half Dollar: Above the date on the 1838-O
and 1839-O Reeded Edge coins only. The former is a legendary
Seated Liberty Half Dollar: Below the eagle on
Barber Half Dollar: Below the eagle on the
Walking Liberty Half Dollar: 1916-17: Below
"IN GOD WE TRUST" on the obverse. 1917-47: To the left of
"HALF DOLLAR" on the reverse.
Franklin Half Dollar: Above the Liberty Bell
and below the 'E' in "STATES" on the reverse.
Kennedy Half Dollar: 1964: To the left of the
olive branch on the reverse. 1968 to date: Above the date.
Early and Gobrecht Silver Dollars: None
Seated Liberty Dollar: Below the eagle on the
Trade Dollar: Above the 'D' in DOLLAR on the
Morgan Dollar: Above the "DO" in DOLLAR on the
Peace Dollar: On the reverse below "ONE" and
above the eagle's tail
Eisenhower Dollar: Above the '7' in the date
Susan B. Anthony Dollar: To the left of Ms.
Anthony on the obverse
Sacagawea Dollar: Below the date
Gold Dollar: Below the wreath on the dated
side of the coin
Early Quarter Eagles: None
Classic Quarter Eagle: Above the date, 1838-39
Liberty Quarter Eagle: Below the eagle on the
reverse; in fact, most mintmarks in this series are
partially merged into the eagle due to space limitations.
Indian Quarter Eagle: To the left of the
arrows (eagle's perch) on the reverse.
Three Dollar Gold: Below the wreath on the
dated side of the coin
Early Half Eagles: None
Classic Half Eagle: Above the date, 1838 only
Liberty Half Eagle: 1839: Above the date.
1840-1907: Below the eagle on the reverse.
Indian Half Eagle: To the left of the arrows
(eagle's perch) on the reverse.
Early Eagle: None
Liberty Eagle: Below the eagle on the reverse
Indian Eagle: 1908-D coins with no motto:
Above (clockwise from) the left end of the branch on the
reverse. All others: to the left of the arrows (eagle's
perch) on the reverse.
Liberty Double Eagle: Below the eagle on the
Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle: Above the date
mintmarks also appear on US commemorative and bullion coins, but
the coins, let alone the mintmark locations, are far too varied
to go into here.
collectors of US coins are used to mintmarks being letters,
mintmarks can be virtually anything that would identify the
place of the coin's manufacture. The first coins were issued by
city-states and did not necessarily need mintmarks, as anything
that would identify the issuer would suffice. However, Roman
Republican coins often bore the name of the moneyer (this
practice continues to the present day in some places), and the
Roman Empire, in an attempt at uniformity, started to use
mintmarks in the middle of the third century.
took the form of a combination of letters - the first part to
indicate that the coin was in fact money (later to indicate the
metallic content - silver or gold), the second to indicate where
the coin was struck, and the third to indicate which workshop
within the mint struck the coin. Unfortunately, the order in
which these three parts appeared could vary, and sometimes not
all of the three parts would appear, which results in the fact
that Roman coins can have an immense number of different
mintmarks. The point of the mintmark was keep track of the
people manufacturing the money, in that coins of improper weight
and fineness could be traced back to the responsible party, who
would likely regret having been traced for the rest of their
often very short lives.
mints used a dizzying assortment of marks, often small pictures
or symbols. A glance at Coincraft's Standard Catalogue of
English and UK Coins 1066 to Date, for example, shows that
eleven pages are dedicated to enumerating and picturing the
mintmarks that appear on British coinage between 1334 and 1662.
Fortunately, the bulk of British coinage made during this time
consisted of pennies, most of which also bore the name of either
the minting city or the moneyer.
more modern world coins may be letters, or monograms, with the
familiar Mexican Mo mintmark, signifying Mexico City,
being an example of the latter. Even today mintmarks may still
be symbols, such as the heart that has long been the mintmark of
the Copenhagen mint. Today, with the advent of industrialized
mints that are able to handle huge coinage loads and the
elimination of circulating precious metal coinage, there are
fewer mints, often only one per country. This renders mintmarks
less necessary, and many mints do not use them.