Mint Marks, or a Lack Thereof





While we proudly distribute our coin collecting supplies far and wide, our roots are set in Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia, which as we all know houses the U.S. Mint’s primary facility. If you’re a seasoned numismatist, you also know that Philadelphia pennies don’t bear a mint mark—until now, that is.


It’s true, for the first time in its 200 plus year history, pennies with a “P” mint mark are being produced and circulated. Look out for one of these unique pennies in 2017, because next year they’ll go back to normal and the mark will be nixed yet again.


With that, let’s go over a few facts about the American tradition of mint marks.


Why Do They Exist?


Today, production is very streamlined and quality is not an issue, but it hasn’t always been that way. Back in earlier times, mint marks appeared as a way to hold the facilities that produced coins accountable.


Why Didn’t Philadelphia Get One?


As the first mint, Philadelphia initially didn’t mark its coins because there was no point. Without the existence of another mint, marking the coins would have been redundant and irrelevant, because they obviously all came from the same place. The tradition of not marking Philadelphia coins continued even as the Denver, San Francisco, West Point and Fort Knox facilities emerged. Even still, it didn't really matter because given the fact that every other Mint marked their coins, if one in circulation had no mark, it was obviously of Philadelphian origin.


The 1965-67 Anomaly


Coins minted between 1965 and 1967 all had no mint mark, no matter where they were produced. Why? The mid-1960s were a golden age of coin collecting—to the point where collections were so popular, the lack of circulation led to a national coin shortage. In other words, many collectors were pulling coins out of circulation to preserve them in their personal collections. The U.S. Mint responded by omitting mint marks as a way to prevent some collectors from having a reason not to re-circulate coins.


Interestingly, when congress acted to return mint marks to coinage in 1968, they deemed that the marks should lie on the obverse face—whereas in the past they mostly sat on the reverse.

All in all, the history of the mint mark, or lack thereof, is a fascinating one. Whether your collection is mint marked or not, you can turn to us for all of your supply needs, from coin cases to currency albums, and everything in between.