Why the History of US Coins Matters for Collectors

Did you know that the most valuable US mint coin, the 1933 Double Eagle, was sold for almost $19 million in June 2021? Mint coins have a long, rich history in the United States. Coins have been minted for over 200 years, with almost a trillion coins minted in history. 

If you’re a coin collector, then the history of US coins can provide a lot of insight into your collection. Here’s everything you need to know.

A Short & Sweet History of US Coins

The Coinage Act of 1792 established the US Mint in Philadelphia, PA. The Mint issued the dollar as the standard currency of the United States and, in March 1793, released its first circulation of 11,000 copper coins. For more on the importance of the US Mint, here’s a brief history.

The First Gold Rushes

In the early 1800s the US experienced its first two gold rushes, which drove up the demand for gold. In response to this Andrew Jackson passed the Coinage Act of 1835. The act created three more minting branches located in North Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana. 

The California Gold Rush

In 1849, the gold rush found its way to California. The California Gold Rush more than doubled its population and is mostly responsible for its eventual statehood.

In 1854, two years after the peak of the Gold Rush, a new minting branch was established in San Francisco. This branch converted miner gold into coins.

FDR Recalls Gold

In 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt recalled all but a small amount of circulating gold coins, certificates, and bullions. FDR’s recall outlawed the personal ownership of all gold denominations. FDR’s repeal took the United States off the gold standard.

Gold would not be legal for another 40 years, with President Gerald Ford repealing FDR’s ban in December of 1974. 

Why History Matters

Why does any of this history matter? Because the history of US coins has a direct effect on their value. Let’s look at some examples.

The 1933 Double Eagle

The 1933 Double Eagle $20 coin was never officially minted because gold was outlawed that same year. The coins already made were recalled for destruction. In reaction to this, a number of the coins were stolen.  

These stolen coins immediately went up in value. Today, a Double Eagle coin is worth millions of dollars.

Coin History Determines Coin Rarity

The rarity of a coin is a determinant factor in its numismatic value. Rare coins have a story attached to them that tells collectors how they were made, when they were made, and how many of them are minted.

For example, the 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar was the first official dollar coin ever issued as currency in the United States. Only 1,758 coins were ever minted, and less 150 of those coins exist today. The history behind this coin makes it incredibly rare, which in-turn determines its multi-million dollar value.

Know Your History

Hopefully, you’ve just learned a thing or two about the history of US coins. Every minted coin has a unique story, and its up to you as a collector to capitalize on that story. Be thorough with your research and always remember to enjoy the process.

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