Minting, making a coin and handing out coins in an effort to prevent counterfeiting (and thus, theft), became the preferred method for making coins and was not a new concept, however. The first coin minted in the United States involved American Indian tribes.
The 1876 “Mintage Act” set the pattern and the practice of minting coins by the United States Mint in the United States of America. In order for the minting of coins to commence, a request to the President had to be made via the U.S. Mint, and then it would take five years for the first coin to be sent to the Mint as proof. After that, coinage started in earnest.
But there were several difficulties experienced by the first minting efforts. For one, the United States Mint never had the equipment to keep a working press of coinages in operation. Coinage pressing can be difficult and time consuming, and for some people, simply spending an afternoon in the Mint was too much work.
Another problem was the high costs of manufacturing coins. First, the U.S. Mint did not have a large amount of capital allocated to the Mint to begin with. Secondly, many people were not willing to fork over the money it would take to purchase the necessary equipment to press and strike coins. And finally, the high prices placed on coins made them more valuable than other commodities, making them easier to mint and sell. Because of all of these problems, the Mint, despite being one of the most prolific mints in the world (it has produced coins in more than a half century) was not a great success.
For centuries, the first coins struck by the U.S. Mint were known as “Pennies.” However, because of the difficulties in the minting process, and the high cost involved, Pennies were eventually abandoned as the standard coinage. In order to preserve the tradition, the United States Mint began production of “Mintmarks” or letters.
Mintmarks are a form of serialization. A mintmark is a numerical representation of a coin as that coin is struck and made from a specific mint metal. A large number of mintmarks were produced, and a number of them are still in use today. Some are in use today, while others are still in use, and others have been retired.
A more recent development is the use of “Mint Marks.” Since 1998, the Mint has been manufacturing Mintmarks for coins
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