Mint Marks: Those Small Letters On U.S. Coins

There’s a lot of talk about “mint” whenever you’re discussing coins and coin collections.

Some examples:

  • First, there’s the U.S. Mint, which is the federal agency responsible for the production and distribution of our Nation’s coinage.
  • Then, there are mint coins (or mint condition coins) which refers to a coin that is in practically the same condition as when it left the mint.
  • And then you have mint sets which are collections of uncirculated coins for a particular year. (It includes one uncirculated coin of each denomination from each mint that produced the denomination during that year.)
  • And finally, you have mint marks (also spelled mintmarks)…

2005-D-Penny-Uncirculated-Obverse-public-domain.jpg United_States_dime_obverse_2002_s_public_domain.jpg

What Are Mint Marks?

Mintmarks are small initials stamped on coins to designate where the coin was made.

In a lot of cases, where the coin was minted makes the difference between a coin being worth a few dollars and being worth a few hundred dollars.

Almost all coins have mintmarks, with the exception of all coins minted at the Philadelphia mint before 1979.

The only coins minted before 1979 to carry a mark from the Philadelphia mint are Jefferson nickels minted between 1942 and 1945 (war nickels).

 

What Those Mint Marks Mean

the-unfamiliar-west-point-mint-mark-by-Adamcha.jpg

C - Charlotte, North Carolina (gold coins only 1838-1861)
CC – Carson City, Nevada (1870-1893)
D - Dahlonega, Georgia (gold coins only 1838-1861)
D - Denver, Colorado (1906-present)
O - New Orleans, Louisiana (1838-1861/1879-1909)
P - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1793-present)
S - San Francisco, California (1854-present)
W – West Point, New York (1984-present)

The only mintmarks you’re going to find on circulating coins today are P, D, and S. All of the other mints either closed down a long time ago or only make gold and specialty coins.

More about United States mint facilities.

 

Where To Find The Mint Mark

Over the years, mintmarks have been placed in all sorts of locations on coins.

I’m going to cover the most common coins that were ever in circulation, starting with the silver dollar and working back to the half cent.

Silver Trade Dollars – On the reverse underneath the eagle

Silver Peace Dollars – On the reverse, bottom left next to the tip of the eagle’s wing

Silver Morgan Dollars - On the reverse underneath the eagle

Silver Bust Dollars – On the reverse underneath the eagle

Kennedy Half Dollars – See below:

Pre-1965 – On the reverse to the left of the olive branch near the eagle’s claw

1968-present – On the front centered above the date

Franklin Half Dollars – On the reverse centered above the beam of the Liberty bell

Walking Liberty Half Dollars – See below:

1917-1947 – On the reverse, bottom left below the branch

1916 & 1917 – On the front below the motto

Barber Half Dollars – On the reverse just below the eagles tail feathers

Seated Liberty Half Dollars – On the reverse below the eagle

Bust Half Dollars – See below:

1938-1939 – On the front above the date

before 1938 – All bust half dollars before 1938 have no mint mark

Washington Quarters – See below:

1968-present On the front, bottom right next to the hair ribbon

1946-1964 On the reverse below the eagle

Standing Liberty Quarters – Small mintmark on the front just above the date and a hair to the left

Barber Quarters – On the reverse beneath the eagle’s tail feathers

Seated Liberty Quarters – On the reverse beneath the eagle

Bust Quarters – All bust quarters have no mintmark (Philadelphia)

Seated Liberty 20-Cent Pieces – On the reverse beneath the eagle

Roosevelt Dimes – See below:

1968-present – On the front above the date

1946-1964 – On the reverse, bottom left of the torch

Mercury Dimes – On the reverse, bottom left of the fasces (column or pole looking thing)

Barber Dimes – On the reverse centered below the wreath

Seated Liberty Dimes – Some have the mintmark just within the wreath, and some have the mint mark just beneath the wreath

Bust Dimes – All bust dimes have no mintmark (Philadelphia)

Seated Liberty Half Dimes – Some have mintmarks within the wreath, and some have mint marks beneath the wreath

Bust Half Dimes – All bust half dimes have no mint mark (Philadelphia)

Jefferson Nickels – See below:

1968-present – On the front near the date

1938-1964 – On the reverse to the right of the Monticello building

1942-1945 (war nickels) – Above the dome of Monticello

Buffalo Nickels – On the reverse below the words FIVE CENTS

Liberty Head Nickels (“V Nickels”) - All V nickels have no mark (Philadelphia) with the exception of the year 1912 in which case the mintmark is on the reverse to the left of the word CENTS

Shield Nickels - All shield nickels have no mint mark (Philadelphia)

3-Cent Pieces - All 3-cent pieces have no mint mark (Philadelphia) with the exception of the year 1851 in which case the mark is on the reverse to the right of the Roman numeral III

2-Cent Pieces – All 3-cent pieces have no mint mark (Philadelphia)

Lincoln Cents - On the front beneath the date

Indian Head Cents – All Indian head cents have no mintmark with the exception of 1908 and 1909 in which case the mark is on the reverse beneath the wreath

Flying Eagle Cents - All flying eagle cents have no mint mark (Philadelphia)

Large Cents – All large cents have no mint mark (Philadelphia)

Half Cents – All half cents have no mintmark (Philadelphia)

 

And there you have it. Now you should know where to find the mint marks on all of your coins!

Jay

I have been collecting and trading coins for years. Coin collecting is a hobby for me, and I've done a lot of research about coins through the years.

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  • Msknight72

    I have two dimes one the year is 1845 and the other is 1945 with a woman face on one side i want to know where to take them if i want to sell them thank you for your help and my e-mail is msknight72@hotmail for any help lisa

  • lisa

    where can you take your coins if you wish to sell them thanks Lisa I need help

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for your question, Lisa.

      Be sure to take your coins to a coin dealer; check your local phone directory or online for a list of coin dealers near you. Whatever you do, avoid selling your coins to a jeweler, a pawn shop, or a ‘sell your gold’ shop. They really don’t know much if anything about collector coins and won’t pay you what a coin dealer will.

  • Marty O*

    What is the “M” on the standing liberty quarters mean. Located next to the bottom
    star on obverse side?…Marty O*

  • Marty O*

    Josh, I just joined today and I appreciate the quick response to me questions! I have a complete sitting liberty “Type set” $1 to 1/2 cent. What’s it worth??
    Marty O*

  • doug

    I have a 1943 penny wheatback and i did a test on it and its not copper is it worth anything?

    • wonka

      It’s a steel penny. Worth 1 cent

      • Anonymous

        Doug and Wonka —

        Yes, Doug, it’s a steel penny. However, Wonka and Doug, it’s worth more like 10 to 25 cents, not just one cent!

  • kevey

    I have two wheat penny, one1945 and the other 1936 but there is no S, D beneath the date ,and they’re not double die or anything . Is it worth anything. I also have a 1969 penny with an S beneath the date.Its not double date thought. Is it worth anything ?

    • Joshua

      Hi Kevey,

      Your 1936 and 1945 wheat cents, which were made in Philadelphia (which has no mint mark on pennies), are each worth 3 to 5 cents. Not enough to justify selling them, but worth more than face value nevertheless and probably your wisest simply to hang onto them with the hope that in time they will be worth more or become contributions to a complete set of Lincoln cents.

      The 1969-S really isn’t worth more than face in collecting terms, though some people have been keeping all pre-1982 U.S. pennies for their copper value.

  • Tiffany Lynn

    I have a 1945 walking liberty half dollar that is gold platted that has the mintmark of sanfrancisco on the reverse side down on the left but on the same side adjacent to it is a w what does the w mean if the s is the mintmark ? And what is it worth

    • Anonymous

      Tiffany,

      The W on your coin (which is worth around $10 to $15) is the initial of Adolph A. Weinman, the person who designed the Walking Liberty half dollar.

  • K Sopata

    1910 wheat penny. Cannot find any mintmarks.  Is this worth anything?  Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    To whom it may concern,

    I have the following:
    – 1979 Susan B Anthony Quarter Dollar (Silver) that is mint marked “D”.. (14)
    – 1979 Susan B Anthony Quarter Dollar (Silver) that is mint marked “P”.. (7)
    – 2000 Sacajawea Quarter Dollar (Gold) that is mint marked “D”.. (2)
    – 2000 Sacajawea Quarter Dollar (Gold) that is mint marked “P”.. (4)

    Do I have anything? Hopefully, I have more than just $27 dollars in coins…

  • Anonymous

    Also, one if the 1979 Susan B Anthony Quarter Dollars is (I think) known as a proof..
    It is placed in a mirror-like frosted capsule.

    Worth anything?

  • Warriorcats101

    I have a 1978 jefferson nickel. THERES NO MINT MARK!! NONE AT ALL!

    • Anonymous

      Warrior,

      That means your 1978 nickel was made at the Philadelphia mint.

  • Janine

    I have a 1965 Liberty quater with no mint mark on either side
    is this worth anything??

    • Anonymous

      Janine,

      U.S. quarters made from 1965 to 1967 were made without mintmarks and are not worth anything more than face value unless in mint condition.

  • charlie

    I have a 1914-D indian head 2.5 gold coin and the D on the coin does not look real. are these somtimes faked

  • Arcamski900

    i have a 1979 penny with the outline of Ohio  and inside the outline is OH. It is engraved to the right of Lincoln’s head, was this faked or is it a mint engraved marking?

  • Pottybox2005

    I have a 1921 silver Morgan Dollar, I have used a loupe to find the mint mark under the eagle, looks like a “M” or a “W”, according to which way you turn the coin.  Is this the mint mark, do you think it might be an “S”?  Guess you can tell I am new at this.

  • andrew zabala

    whats my 1947 silver nickel worth please and thank you

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Andrew –

      A 1947 Jefferson nickel isn’t made of silver, but it is worth around 10 to 20 cents.

  • Shanan

    Someone told me that I should keep all coins with the D mint. Is that true, are they more rare?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Shanan –

      Well, it is true that some D-mint coins are scarcer than their same-year Philadelphia-minted counterparts. This is especially true with coins from the earlier part of the 20th century.

      However, with tens of millions and even billions of coins being pumped out of both Philadelphia and Denver mints annually, there really is no reason to search out recent D-mint coins just for the sake of scarcity.

  • Jodi

    My daughter had a school assignment to find out what the letters on Abe Lincoln’s chest on a penny mean. I don’t see any letters there. Can anyone help?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Jodi –

      I believe your daughter’s school assignment is referring to the letters “VDB,” a tiny feature appearing just below Lincoln’s shoulder and a set of initials that stand for Victor David Brenner, the Lincoln cent’s designer.

  • melissa

    I have a quarter from 1968 and it has no mint marks below on right hand side next to the hair ribbon and the word United on the back of the quarter has a Mis-print the I and T in united is almost connected. You have to look real close with a magnifying glass to see its a possible T the I next to the N in united is connected too. So I have three letters that don’t have proper spacings

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Melissa –

      IN GOD WE TRUST commonly looks a little squashed on quarters from that era, so your coin sounds largely normal.

  • Rich Hess

    In have a 25 ¢ that is silver but it have copy on the head 2006 51 state proof . Have any one see this?

    • Tracey

      I have one also but i dont know anything about it

  • tom

    what is the letter mark d next to the chest of lincoln pennies its very faint found some on the 40’s and so 50’s its very faint but its a D

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Tom –

      The “D” is the mintmark for the Denver mint, which is one of a few United States Mint branch locations.

  • MNM

    I have a 1938 walking liberty half dollar that has an N on it. It’s on the reverse side, lower right hand, under the eagle wing. Can you please tell me if this is worth anything? I’ve been told by other collectors that it’s not really worth anything, but think they are just trying to rip me off. Please let me know soon, thanks.

  • Chrissy

    looking through some nickles I have never noticed a marking below the front part of a nickle below the coat line. It is either 2 letters or 2 numbers. Can anyone tell me what it is and what it means ?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Chrissy –

      What you see are the letters “FS,” which are the initials of Felix Schlag, the person who first designed the Jefferson nickel in 1938.

  • jromero40@live.com

    I found a 1977 nickle which looks like is got spots of copper, does anyone know anything about this.

  • themi have lincoln one cent pe

    I have lincoln penny one cent 1922 noD

  • Jean

    hi – I have roles of coins, mostly pennies that my dad rolled years ago. He even dated the roles so I started looking at the ones from the 1930’s and havent gotten to 1940’s (nor before and after those dates yet!!!) But so far I can’t find any mint mark on any of the 1930’s pennies. Is there are reason?

    Thanks, Jean

  • Jean

    Now I just found a 1930 penny with an S on it. Worth anything?? Thanks, Jean

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Jean –

      Yes, a 1930-S Lincoln cent is worth about 10 cents.

  • Mark Feldman

    I Have A 1868 Morgan Silver Dollar that My Father Had Left For Me. It Is Real Silver For Its Not Magnetic, But I Can’t Find A Mint Mark On It. It Is In My Opinion Very Good Condition Being That It Is Almost 130 Years Old. Where Can I Find The Value And A Possible Buyer At The Right Price?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Mark –

      Your 1886 Morgan dollar, if lacking a mintmark, was struck at the Philadelphia mint and with moderate wear (based on your judgement of the coin grading “Very Good”) is worth around $20 to $25, which will vary a bit based on silver prices at the time you sell your coin.

      You will definitely want to take your coin to a coin dealer, as they offer better prices on coins than jewelers and pawn shops. Here is some advice on how to find a coin dealer: http://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/2009/12/coin_dealer.php

  • Luke Sullivan

    Had anyone ever heard of a 1971 d over s Lincoln ddo doubling throughout most all lettering on obverse

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hello, Luke –

      May we see a photo of your 1971 Lincoln cent, please?

      Thanks!

  • Luke Sullivan

    Prices onur 1917 1935 and other date are going to be largely on grade hope to get xf 40 that would be good ecspecially for ur 1917