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The U.S. has a dime and quarter… but did you know there’s also a twenty cent coin?
Yes, from 1875 to 1878, the United States Mint struck a 20-cent coin.
While many nations have such a denomination, the twenty cent piece in the United States wasn’t very popular.
Nevertheless, it remains a chapter in our nation’s monetary history, and has been popular among many coin collectors.
The 20-Cent Coin
The twenty cent coin is one of America’s shortest-living coins and our shortest-surviving coinage denomination.
In fact, it survived only about as long as the ill-fated Susan B. Anthony dollar.
However, the twenty cent piece remains an object of numismatic curiosity and is popular among 19th-century type set coin collectors.
The 20-cent coin is a silver piece about the size and weight of a modern-day nickel. Also like the modern-day nickel, the edge of the coin is plain.
On the obverse is a design of a seated figure of Liberty. An eagle graces the reverse.
William Barber designed the 20-cent coin.
Why The 20-Cent Piece Failed
Back in the 1870s, making small change transactions was simple with dimes, half-dimes, quarters, and fractional notes — paper currency with face values of between 3 cents and 50 cents.
The public often confused the twenty cent coin with the quarter, which had a similar design at the time.
So, what did the 20-cent piece offer that other denominations didn’t? Simply put, the twenty cent coin did what 2 dimes could do.
Perhaps if the United States didn’t have a 25-cent coin, the 20-cent coin would have served a very important role in our nation’s commerce. However, due to the fact we already had the quarter, the twenty cent piece was largely viewed by many as unnecessary.
By 1877, the U.S. Mint was minting only a few hundred 20-cent coins. The last was made in 1878.
Twenty Cent Coin Values
Twenty cent coins are considered generally scarce, though the most common of these is the 1875-S 20-cent piece.
Because there are only 7 different 20-cent coins to collect, let’s look at the value of each one in the series:
- 1875 – $150
- 1875-CC – $365
- 1875-S – $125
- 1876 – $210
- 1876-CC – $50,000
- 1877 (Proof 60) – $3,500
- 1878 (Proof 60) – $3,500
*CC is the mint mark for Carson City Nevada. S mintmark coins were struck in San Francisco. Each of the values, unless otherwise stated, are for coins in the grade of Good 4. Values for coins with less wear are higher.
My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I'm a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and have won multiple awards from the NLG for my work as a coin journalist. I'm also the editor at CDN Publishing (a trusted source for the price of U.S. rare coins), editor at the Florida United Numismatists Club (FUN Topics magazine), and author of Images of America: The United States Mint in Philadelphia (a book that explores the colorful history of the Philadelphia Mint). I've contributed hundreds of articles for various coin publications including COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin Values, and CoinWeek. I've also authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins — and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!