Here are some randomly selected U.S. coin facts and trivia which may be of interest to collectors.
1. A foreign coin was the main coin in use for decades in the American colonies. The Spanish milled silver dollar, commonly known as the "pillar dollar" or "piece of eight" was legal currency in the U.S. until 1857.
2. The word "dime" is derived from the Latin word "decima", which means the "tenth part".
3. The Kennedy half dollar has been issued in three different mettalic composition varities, namely: .900 Fine Silver in 1964, .400 clad silver from 1965 and 1970, and cupro-nickel clad copper since 1971.
4. The motto IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared on a U.S. coin in 1864, during the Civil War. In particular, the two-cent piece, first minted in that year, was the first coin with the slogan.
5. The smallest monetary denomination coin ever issued in the U.S. was the half cent, minted from 1793 through 1857.
6. The Booker T. Washington Memorial Half Dollar was the first coin to feature a portrait of an African-American. It was minted from 1946 to 1951.
7. Calvin Coolidge was the first and only President to have his portrait appear on a coin minted while he was still alive.
8. Since gaining independence, the U.S. has minted coins in denominations that today may seem odd. For example, the U.S. has minted half cents (1793-1857), two-cent pieces (1864-1873), three-cent pieces (1851-1889), twenty-cent pieces (1875-1878), $2.50 gold pieces (1796-1929), $3.00 gold piece (1854-1889), $4.00 gold pieces (1879-1880), $5.00 gold pieces or half eagles (1795-1929), $10.00 gold pieces or eagles (1795-1933), and $20.00 gold pieces ("double eagles") (1849-1933). Currently, the only coin denominations being minted are the penny, nickel, dime, quarter, half dollar, and dollar.
9. The Liberty Head Nickel, when first minted in 1883, did not have the word "cents" inscribed on it. Enterprising individuals illegally gold plated the coins and attempted to pass them off as $5 gold pieces, often successfully. The U.S. Mint soon caught on to the scam and added the word "cents" to the nickels shortly thereafter.
10. The inscription "E Pluribus Unum," meaning "One from Many" (e.g. one nation comprised of a union of many states) was first used on the 1795 Liberty Cap-Heraldic Eagle gold $5 piece.
11. The U.S Mint estimates that the average life expectancy of a circulating coin is about 30 years, whereas paper currency usually only lasts for as little as 18 months.
12. The Mint produced its first circulating coins (a "whopping" $111.78 worth) in 1793. This consisted of 11,178 copper cents. Today there is more than $8 billion worth of coins circulating in the US and, in the past 30 years, the US Mint has minted over 300 billion coins, worth in excess of $15 billion.
13. If you have three quarters, four dimes, and four pennies in your possession, you have the largest possible amount of money in U.S. coins without being able to make change for a dollar.
14. The slang term for a dollar ("buck") is thought to have originated in the early US frontier days when the hide of a male deer (a buck) was a common currency, due to the scarcity of coinage.
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