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10 Fun Facts about U.S. Coins

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Coins have been around for centuries. In 1793, copper, silver, and gold coins made their way around the United States.

Coinage in the United States has several coins that are widely used throughout the country: the penny, nickel, dime, and quarter. We use coins for many activities today – from penny wars, to tossing coins in fountains – coins can represent luck or wealth. These fundamental pieces of U.S. currency have been around for over 220 years. Here are some fun facts about U.S. coins:

  1. U.S. coins previously contained gold, silver and copper [1] The U.S. Mint originally made coins with precious metals like gold and silver. Eventually, it became too costly to use these materials to create coins. Today, the U.S. Mint creates U.S. coins from Cupro-Nickel and Copper-plated Zinc.
  2. 2-cent and 3-cent coins used to exist [1] Before 1873 and 1889, the U.S. used two and three cent coins because they were practical. As prices rose, the U.S. Mint discontinued using these coins.
  3. The “Eagle” was a $10 coin [2] Centuries ago, the United States Mint created several “Eagle” coins that represented $2.50, $5, $10, and $20. A $2.50 “eagle” was called a quarter eagle. The $5 “eagle” was called a half eagle, and the $20 coin was called a “double eagle.”
  4. Pennies can remain in circulation for 40 years [3] Eventually the U.S. Mint will recycle coins, but a penny can last an average of 40 years in your wallet!
  5. Coins are harder to copy because of the ridged edges! [4] When the U.S. Mint created coins from gold and silver, Isaac Newton implemented adding reeded edges to stop people from altering or filing off the edges to retrieve some of the precious metals.[6]
  6. The First Animal Featured on a Coin was an Eagle [3] An eagle appeared on circulating coin in 1794. The second animal was the bison, or buffalo, and it appeared on a nickel from 1913 to 1938.
  7. Pennies were silver for one year [2] During 1943, there was a copper shortage, so the U.S. Mint had to create pennies from zinc-coated steel. They looked very similar to dimes!
  8. The United States Mint makes the most coins in the world [4] The U.S. Mint makes more coins and medals than any other mint in the world. It also made coins for other countries! The U.S. Mint last created coins for a foreign country in 1984[5], and now exclusively creates coins for the United States.
  9. 9. President Lincoln was the first President on a coin [2] President Lincoln appeared on the one-cent coin beginning in 1909, and he was the first president to appear on a U.S. coin.
  10. 10. There are $10 Billion dollars in coins sitting around the United States [1] It’s estimated there’s about $10 Billion in coins across U.S. homes!

Check between couch cushions, vehicle floorboards, in the washing machine or dryer, pockets of your clothes, or even old coat pockets, and bring it to a branch near you to convert into dollars, or add extra money to your savings! You might be surprised how much your spare change can total. Check out our branch locations that have automatic coin counters:

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