Coin Information and Identification

add quick scroll to dollars, halves, etc.

fix spacing

Here are a number of U.S. coins that we commonly receive questions on. These are all coins from the late nineteenth century until recent. Hover over the images to learn some identifying factors of the coin you are interested in. 

IMG_4912_edited.jpg
Indian Head Pennies

1859 - 1909

Indian head pennies were first made in 1859. Each coin depicts Lady Liberty in a Native American headdress on the obverse. The reverse shows "ONE CENT" surrounded by a wreath. The mint mark is located on the reverse, at the bottom of the coin. Not all pennies have mint marks. 

Indian Head Pennies

interesting facts

  • Indian Head pennies are the first small cent coin to be used for a number of years. Before the Indian Head cent came to be, larger copper cents were used. 

  • The Flying Eagle cent was a small copper cent used before the Indian Head cent, but it had some design flaws and was only made for a few years. 

  • That's not really a Native American on the cent, that's actually a depiction of Lady Liberty wearing a traditional Native American headdress. 

most valuable date

1877

IMG_4924_edited.jpg
Wheat Pennies

1909 - 1958

Wheat pennies were first created in 1909. The obverse shows a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, and the reverse shows "ONE CENT" between two wheat stalks. Mint marks can be found on the obverse, under "LIBERTY" but not all pennies have mint marks. 

Wheat Pennies

interesting facts

  • The Lincoln Cent was released in 1909 with designer Victor David Brenner's initials between the wheat stalks on the reverse of the coin. The public thought that this was unacceptable, as the initials were too prominent for their tastes. The coin was changed that year and the initials were removed. Only 484,000 coins were minted at the San Fransisco Mint, making the 1909 S VDB cent a rarity.

 

  • In 1943, the US Mint used zinc-coated steel to make pennies instead of copper due to a shortage during WWII. The steel cent is the only US coin that sticks to a magnet. 

most valuable date

1909 s vdb

IMG_4919_edited.jpg
Liberty "V" Nickels

1883 - 1913

Liberty nickels were first made in 1883, with Lady Liberty on the front and a large V on the back. Some coins in 1883 read "CENTS" on the back and some do not. All nickels after 1883 have "CENTS" on the reverse. Mint marks can be found at the bottom left of the reverse.

Liberty "V" Nickels

interesting facts

  • Some of the coins without "CENTS" on the back (1883) Were gold plated and passed off as $5 gold coins back in the day. This is the reason the word "cents" was added to the coin.

  • Five known specimen are from 1913. These were never intended for circulation and were first spotted in the hands of a former US Mint employee in the year 1920. These coins are all in various private and public collections currently. 

most valuable date

1913

IMG_4922_edited.jpg
Buffalo Nickels

1913 - 1938

Buffalo nickels first hit circulation in 1913. The obverse features the head of a Native American man, while the reverse depicts a standing bison. The mint mark can be found underneath the bison's feet on the reverse of the coin. All of these coins were minted with dates, but many have worn off throughout the years.

Buffalo Nickels

interesting facts

  • The engraver, James Earl Fraser, based his Native American portrait off of three different men: Chief Iron Tail, Chief Two Moons, and Chief John Big Tree. Chief Iron Tail was of the Ogala Lakota Tribe, Chief Two Moons was from the Cheyenne Tribe, and Chief John Big Tree was from the Kiowa Tribe.

  • The bison design was based off of "Black Diamond" at the New York Central Park Zoo.

  • The buffalo was the first animal on US circulating coinage other than the eagle.

most valuable date

25 cents

IMG_4917_edited.jpg
War Nickels

1942 - 1945

Jefferson Nickels made from between 1942 and 1945 contained 40% silver. They look very similar to the nickels you can find in your pocket change today, aside from one difference: the mint mark on these coins is large and above the dome of Monticello on the reverse. Many war nickels also have a greenish hue. 

War Nickels

interesting facts

  • This coin marked the first instance in which the letter "P" was used to designate a coin minted at the Philadelphia Mint. Before this coin, no mint mark was used to designate coins came from there.

  • Wartime nickels are 35% silver, 9% manganese, and 56% copper. This was done in order to provide a coin with no nickel content that would still be accepted by the anti-counterfeiting measures in vending machines. 

most valuable date

none

Derzon%20Coins%20Edited%20Shots-78_edite
Barber Dimes

1892 - 1916

Barber dimes feature the design of _______. The obverse shows a _______. Meanwhile, the reverse _______. Mint marks can be found on the reverse, __________. These coins contain 90% silver. 

Barber Dimes

interesting facts

  • The design of Lady Liberty on the dime was inspired by Greco-Roman sculpture and French medallions at the time. 

  • There were only 24 1894 S dimes minted, but only nine are accounted for. Three were given to the San Francisco Mint superintendent's daughter, one of which was supposedly spent on some ice cream.  

most valuable date

1894 s

Derzon%20Coins%20Edited%20Shots-15_edite
Buffalo Nickels

1913 - 1938

Buffalo nickels first hit circulation in 1913. The obverse features the head of a Native American man, while the reverse depicts a standing bison. The mint mark can be found underneath the bison's feet on the reverse of the coin. 

Derzon Coins Edited Shots-21.jpg
War Nickels

1942 - 1945

Jefferson Nickels made from between 1942 and 1945 contained 40% silver. They look very similar to the nickels you can find in your pocket change today, aside from one difference: the mint mark on these coins is large and above the dome of Monticello on the reverse. Many war nickels also have a greenish hue. 

Mercury Dimes

interesting facts

  • This coin doesn't feature the god Mercury, but instead shows Liberty with a Phrygian cap and wings. 

  • The symbolism on the reverse was supposed to show America's desire for peace yet readiness for war. This dime was first created in 1916, when Europe was engulfed in World War I. 

most valuable date

1916 d

Roosevelt Dimes

interesting facts

  • Roosevelt was chosen for the dime in 1946 after he passed away the year prior. He was to be honored with the new design after leading the country through World War II. There was also a trend of putting historical figures on coins at the time instead of Lady Liberty. 

  • Roosevelt was also chosen in part due to his efforts to found the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which raised money for research and aid for those with polio. The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis is now known as "The March of Dimes."

most valuable date

none

Derzon Coins Edited Shots-7.jpg
War Nickels

1942 - 1945

Jefferson Nickels made from between 1942 and 1945 contained 40% silver. They look very similar to the nickels you can find in your pocket change today, aside from one difference: the mint mark on these coins is large and above the dome of Monticello on the reverse. Many war nickels also have a greenish hue. 

Barber Quarters

interesting facts

  • "Barber" refers to the name of the designer, Charles E. Barber, who designed a dime, quarter, and half dollar to begin production in 1892.

most valuable date

$4.50+

IMG-6367_edited.jpg
Morgan Dollars

1909 - 1958

info

IMG-6375_edited.jpg
Peace Dollars

1909 - 1958

info

IMG-6368_edited.jpg
Peace Dollars

1909 - 1958

info

Standing Liberty Quarters

interesting facts

  • The original design featured two dolphins at Liberty's feet to represent the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, but this idea was scrapped before the design was finalized. 

  • There are two types of this coin, with the first variation only being found on coins dated 1916 and 1917. In this variation, Liberty is without a top and her breast is exposed. Coins from 1917 through 1930 were altered so this was no longer the case. 

  • Only 52,000 coins were made in 1916, making this an exceptionally difficult date to find. 

most valuable date

1916

Washington Quarters

interesting facts

  • This design was created in honor of George Washington's 200th birthday. It was supposed to be a temporary design, but it was incredibly popular with the public and has stuck for nearly 90 years.

  • George Washington himself didn't like the idea of Founding Fathers on United States coinage- to him, it was too much like the British custom of putting monarchs on coins.

most valuable date

1932 d

Barber Halves

interesting facts

most valuable date

IMG-6373_edited.jpg
Morgan Dollars

1909 - 1958

info

Walking Liberty Halves

interesting facts

  • This coin is regarded as one if America's most beautiful silver coins ever made. 

  • A modified version of the walking Liberty design was used beginning in 1986 for the .999 silver dollar known today as the American Eagle. 

  • This coin might have been inspired by French coins from the same era.

most valuable date

$9.00+

IMG-6371_edited.jpg
Peace Dollars

1909 - 1958

info

Franklin Halves

interesting facts

  • This was the first coin made for circulation that featured a historical figure that never served as President. 

  • There is a small eagle engraving on the reverse, next to the Liberty Bell, because the U.S. Mint legally had to have a bald eagle on its circulating half dollar coinage.

  • Ben Franklin had not liked portraits on coins and when alive thought that proverbs would be better suited for coinage.

  • Ben Franklin did not like eagles and considered them anything but majestic, so he most likely wouldn't have liked being on a coin with one, either!

most valuable date

N/A

Derzon Coins Edited Shots-20.jpg
War Nickels

1942 - 1945

Jefferson Nickels made from between 1942 and 1945 contained 40% silver. They look very similar to the nickels you can find in your pocket change today, aside from one difference: the mint mark on these coins is large and above the dome of Monticello on the reverse. Many war nickels also have a greenish hue. 

Kennedy Halves

interesting facts

  • The Kennedy half dollar was approved by Congress just one month after his death. On the day of the assassination, the U.S. Mint was already thinking of memorializing him on a coin. Jacqueline Kennedy herself had chosen the half dollar to commemorate her husband on. 

 

  • In order to design the new coin quickly after his death, the U.S. Mint used the designs from the inaugural medal and had the engravers modify it. 

  • Half dollars from 1964 have 90% silver, from 1965-1970 have 40%, and later halves have no silver.

most valuable date

1964

IMG_4931_edited.jpg
Buffalo Nickels

1913 - 1938

Buffalo nickels first hit circulation in 1913. The obverse features the head of a Native American man, while the reverse depicts a standing bison. The mint mark can be found underneath the bison's feet on the reverse of the coin. 

Morgan Dollars

interesting facts

  • This coin was unpopular at the time because of its size and a general dislike of the eagle on the reverse. The Morgan Dollars was more commonly used in the Wild West. 

  • The Morgan Dollar was last produced in 1904, although it was produced for the year 1921 after the new Peace Dollar dies had some issues that needed revising. The Peace Dollar was re-released in 1922. No dollar coins were made from 1905 to 1920.

  • Morgan Dollars bearing the Carson City (CC) mint mark tend to be some of the most valuable.

most valuable date

IMG_4929_edited.jpg
Peace Dollars

1909 - 1958

info

Peace Dollars

interesting facts

  • The Peace Dollar was created in 1921, however the high-relief dies were problematic. This caused the U.S. Mint to 

  • a

  • aaa

most valuable date

Derzon%20Coins%20Edited%20Shots-15_edite
War Nickels

1942 - 1945

Jefferson Nickels made from between 1942 and 1945 contained 40% silver. They look very similar to the nickels you can find in your pocket change today, aside from one difference: the mint mark on these coins is large and above the dome of Monticello on the reverse. Many war nickels also have a greenish hue. 

American Eagles

interesting facts

  • American Eagles were created because of a plan to sell silver from the Defense National Stockpile in the 1980s.

  • Unlike most silver U.S. coins, the American Eagle is .999 pure silver and weighs one ounce.

  • American Eagles have a printed denomination of one dollar despite being worth $20-$30. 

  • A new reverse was released in the summer of 2021. Before this, the reverse was always the same.

most valuable date