Those Crazy Mintmarks

Posted on June 17, 2010 by

Mintmarks are the tiny letters on coins that identify the mints that produced them.  U.S. coins can feature any one of the following:

P (or none) for Philadelphia
D for Denver or Dahlonega
C for Charlotte
S for San Francisco
CC for Carson City
W for West Point
O for New Orleans

Mintmarks sometimes take on a life of their own.  They can be big, medium, or small.  They can tilt left or right, or even be upside down.  Sometimes they’re on the front of the coin, sometimes on the back.  They can be double-punched, triple-punched, or there can even be two different mintmarks on the same coin, one punched over the other.  They may not always be placed where they’re supposed to be.  Sometimes they are punched into a coin, other times they are added by hand, sometimes they are left off completely.  They can get filled with gunk, they can rust, they can be weak or strong.

In short, mintmarks can be one of the most interesting aspects of a coin.

Here’s what prompted this blog entry.

As I was reviewing images on the PCGS CoinFacts site, I noticed that the mintmark on most No Motto $10 Liberties is placed just below and between the eagle’s talon and the fletch (feather) or the arrow.  However, most of the S-Mint No Motto $10 Liberties have a mintmark further to the right, below and between the fletch and the tip of the stem.  Supposedly, mintmarks are added to the dies by employees at the Philadelphia Mint BEFORE the dies are shipped out to the branch mints, so the obvious question is “Why is the placement of the mintmark on S-Mint $10 Libs different than it is on coins from New Orleans.”

An even bigger question (which illustrates the craziness of mintmarks) is why 1856-S Eagles come with mintmarks in either the “normal” position or the “far right” position!  What were those wacky Mint employees smoking?

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  1. […] Guth writes about mint marks for the PCGS Blog, stating that they "can be one of the most interesting aspects of a […]

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