The coins that jingle in your pocket or that sit in your piggy bank are made out of special metals. The United States Mint has the responsibility for making these coins. People use coins to pay for items they want to buy. The U.S. Mint is also in charge of the circulation of coins. Circulating coins refers to all the coins that people use in America to buy and sell things.
In 1792, the United States Congress created the U.S. Mint. The U.S. Mint operates under the U.S. Treasury to make sure that people in America have all the coins they need to pay for things they want to buy. The U.S. Mint has offices located in different cities, including Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. Every year, the U.S. Mint makes between 14 and 20 billion coins that circulate within America's financial system. Coins can usually circulate for about 25 years before the U.S. Mint retires them.
The U.S. Mint facilities in Denver and Philadelphia are the places in charge of making coins for the United States. A machine called a blanking press punches round circles out of a long sheet of metal. The blanks move to a furnace for heating, and then a special machine washes and dries them. An upsetting mill makes a rim around the edges of the coins. Striking is the final step, which puts the designs on the fronts and the backs of the coins. Employees need to inspect every coin to make sure they are correct before the U.S. Mint releases them into circulation.
Old coins can be worth more than their face value. This means that an old penny might be worth more than just one cent. Some pennies are worth hundreds of dollars. Coins that are unusual, old, and in good condition have a higher value than other types of coins. Coins might be unusual because of their variety, because of their date, or because of their mint mark. Mint marks show which U.S. Mint made a coin. Some coins contain silver, which makes them more valuable, too. Many older coins had mixtures of silver and other metals in them.
The U.S. Mint circulates six different coins. These coins include the penny, the nickel, the dime, the quarter, the 50-cent piece, and the one-dollar coin. Abraham Lincoln's head has been on America's pennies since 1909. United States nickels have had Thomas Jefferson's head on them since 1938. Dimes are the thinnest and smallest of the circulating coins. Special quarter programs have helped make these coins popular with collectors. After President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, the U.S. Mint placed his picture on the 50-cent coins. Dollar coins date back to 1794.
People who collect coins are called numismatists. Many people enjoy collecting coins. Augustus Caesar had the first recorded coin collection. Caesar reportedly liked to give coins to people as gifts. Coin collecting can be a hobby for kids or adults. Some people like to collect all types of coins, and others search for only certain coins to add to their collections. You might choose one year or a period of time, adding to your collection only coins minted during this time period. Commemorative coins are another popular collector item. The U.S. Mint made these special coin sets to celebrate special people or events.