Visit our US Coin Grading and Silver Dollar Pages
The American Colonies formed a Confederation and declared independence from England in 1776. This date is the one that sticks into everyone's mind. What many forget is that the American Revolution lasted several years. Well into the 1780s, the Congress of the Confederation of American States was the government of the land. It was not until almost 1790, once the Constitutional Convention occurred, that the United States of America was formed.
It was still several years later before the country was able to form a mint and come up with any bullion, machinery, and metallurgists required to mint any coins. The first silver bullion was actually donated by George Washington. At the time, silver was actually more precious than gold to the new country. Foreign currency was used throughout the states. As a matter of fact, it was not until late in the 19th century that Spanish currency lost its legal tender status in the US.
The US Mints first year of coinage was actually test coinage in 1792, a full 16 years after the Declaration of Independence. Real minting of coins for circulation started in late 1793 for copper, late 1794 for silver and 1795 for gold. The first mint is still in operation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Additional mints sprung up around the US as the need required. The first was in Charlotte, North Carolina because of a major gold strike near there. Nearby Dahlonega, Georgia opened soon after. Both of these mints minted Gold coins only. A short time later, the New Orleans, Louisiana mint opened. Carson City, Nevada was chosen to mint silver from the Comstock Load silver strike in the mid 1800s. All of the additional mints have since closed down. However, due to the cost of shipping coins, mints have been formed in San Francisco, California & Denver, Colorado. Since the start of gold coinage again in the 1980s, a new mint has started in West Point, New York.
This page is meant to show examples of all of the obverses (fronts) of all of the US coins ever minted. The picture below is a mapped image that allows you to click on a coin to get a larger view of it. The coins are laid out in a timeline with the oldest coins at the top and newest at the bottom. Descriptions of the obverses run with the timeline along the left of the photo. Denominations start with the smallest at the left and largest on the right. Denomination labels run across the top of the picture. The only coins not represented are the Flowing Hair Silver Dollar from 1794/5 (a very rare and expensive coin) and the Jefferson Silver Nickel from 1943-5 (a silly oversight).
You will notice that there is one point in US
(the mid 1800s) where all coin denominations were in circulation at the