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Understanding Mint Marks on Coins

Knowing what mint marks are and where to locate them is an important aspect of coin collecting. Sometimes this small mark on a coin can mean the difference in value of thousands of dollars.

What is a Mint Mark?

Mint Mark of the U.S. Mint
San Francisco, CA.
Mint Mark of the U.S. Mint at San Francisco, CA.

A mintmark is a small mark stamped into a coin as it is being made to identify at which mint it was produced.

In the United States this mark is a small letter that is almost always on the fieldThe field is the background area of a coin not used for a design or inscription. of the coin. The two most common mintmarks found on United States coins are the "D" and "S".

In other parts of the world different symbols, as well as letters can be found as identifying marks on coins. See some examples here.

To see images of United States Coins showing where the mintmark is located along with a written description, click here.

Identifying Marks Used by United States Mints

There have been several mints that produced coins for the United States over the years. The following table shows images of mintmarks from each of the eight different United States Mints with information about each mint.

Examples of United States Mint Marks

Image Mark Mint Dates of Operation
United States Mint Mark P
Philadelphia, PA 1793-present
Most coins from Philadelphia have no mark
United States Mint Mark C
Charlotte, NC 1838-1861
(gold coins only)
United States Mint Mark D
Dahlonega, GA 1838-1861
(gold coins only)
United States Mint Mark O
New Orleans, LA 1838-1861; 1879-1909
United States Mint Mark S
San Francisco, CA 1854-1955; 1968-present
United States Mint Mark CC
Carson City, NV 1870-1893
United States Mint Mark D
Denver, CO 1906-present
United States Mint Mark W
West Point, NY 1976-present
(collector coins only)

Note that there are two "D" marks. In early coins dated 1838-1861 the "D" would indicate it was struck in Dahlonega, GA. 1906-present dated coins with the "D" mark would indicate Denver, CO.

Locating Mint Marks

Most identifying marks were on the reverse sides of United States coins until 1968, when the location was moved to the obverse (front) side of the coins. There are some exceptions however.

To see a list of U.S. coins and a description of where to locate their mintmarks click here.

Keep in mind that the Philadelphia Mint was the only U.S. Mint for quite some time, so not many coins from there have identifying marks.

Why are Mint Marks Important?

Collectors determine a coin's value by examining its date, mintmark and condition.

The most important of these three is the condition. However, since the coin may have been produced in large quantities in one mint and much smaller quantities in another, the mint that struck the coin can be extremely important in determining its value.

Let's take a look at the 1894 dime and I think you will understand why a mintmark can make a difference in the value of a coin.

  • 1,330,000 1894 Dimes were minted at the Philadelphia Mint. These dimes do not have a mintmark.
  • 720,000 were minted at the New Orleans Mint and have an "O" mintmark.
  • Only 24 were minted at the San Francisco Mint with the "S" mintmark.

As I am sure you have already guessed, those 24 dimes with the "S" mintmark are extremely valuable coins.

What Would You Like To Do Now?

Learn more about the History of The Use of
Identifying Marks on Coins

Learn more about where to find Mint Marks on Coins

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