What Is A Mint Mark on a Coin?

What Is a Mint Mark on a Coin?


Written by John Rothans

Oct 23, 2019

S, W, D, P

Are these letters an arcane initialism? Secret message? Online coupon code? These letters are none of the above! S, W, D, and P are mint marks you’re likely to see on American coinage.

Coin mint marks provide information about a coin that’s important for the following reasons.

A Coin’s Mint Mark Notes Where It Was Made

What is a mint mark on a coin? The mint mark lets the coin’s owner know the U.S. location where it was produced.

Remarkably, even the absence of a mint mark can also answer that question.

Current Mint Marks
Mint Mark Mint Location Did You Know?
P Philadelphia If you cannot locate a mint mark on a coin, there’s a good chance it was minted in Philadelphia. Because this location was the first mint location ever, its coins do not often bear the “P” mint mark. After all, with no other mints, there was no need to differentiate minting locations.
D Denver Denver wasn’t always the only mint with a “D” mint mark. Georgia’s Dahlonega Mint produced gold coins from 1838 to 1861. While Denver and Dahlonega coins bear the same mint mark, Dahlonega coins ceased minting in 1861, while Denver coins began minting in 1906—that’s how coin enthusiasts tell them apart. Additionally, the Dahlonega Mint only struck gold dollars, quarter eagles, and half eagles.
S San Francisco Coinage production in San Francisco was suspended from 1955 to 1965. The original mint location in this city is referred to as “The Granite Lady.”
W West Point West Point produced pennies in the early 1980s. They left off the mint mark to help ensure as many coins as possible remained in circulation. Otherwise, some people might have hoarded them for personal collections and thus removed them from circulation.


Mint marks on coins aren’t limited to coins produced in the United States. Coinage produced at minting facilities around the world also bear mint marks.

A Coin’s Mint Mark Represents History

In addition to providing a convenient way to diversify your wealth portfolio, gold and silver coins offer precious metals buyers a view into our nation’s history. For example, not every mint mark is still used today. Some have been retired.

Former Mint Marks
Mint Mark Mint Location Year Retired
C Charlotte 1861
CC Carson City 1893
D Dahlonega (Georgia) 1861
O New Orleans 1909

See the retired mint marks for Charlotte, Dahlonega, and New Orleans? During the U.S. Civil War, the Confederacy seized those mints. The Confederacy refashioned the Charlotte location into a hospital and military office spaces once they abandoned coining operations.

The West Point Mint provides another historical take. This one focuses on the nation’s coinage. The “W” mint mark may as well stand for “win.” After all, the West Point Mint produced our nation’s first platinum and palladium coins (American Eagle Platinum and American Eagle Palladium Coins) in 1997 and the first gold and bimetallic coin (the Library of Congress Commemorative Bimetallic $10 coin) in 2000. It’s an impressive list for a relatively young U.S. Mint facility—West Point didn’t become a mint until 1988.

There are some precious metals coins minted at West Point that don’t feature the “W” mint mark, though. Examples include the bullion versions of the Gold American Eagle, Silver American Eagle, and Gold American Buffalo. If you’re looking to add a “W” mint mark to your portfolio, then check out the Proof Silver American Eagle Coin! The “W” mint mark is prominently featured on the coin’s reverse side.

A Coin’s Mint Mark Can Provide Insight into Its Availability

Do you have a regular-issue Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle Gold Coin bearing the mint mark “1927-D?” If so, congratulations: You belong to a club with about 15 members.

That’s because even a generous estimate of the number of regular-issue Saint-Gaudens Gold Double Eagles bearing the mint mark “1927-D” known to exist tops out at 15. Some estimates are even less!

A Coin’s Mint Mark Can Protect You

It’s a sad fact of life that bad actors engage in fraudulent activity. It’s an enormous problem in the art world, for example. (Did you hear about the fake Jackson Pollock painting that netted $17 million?)

Frauds can even hit the coin market. A faked mint mark can take a $20 coin and pump its price tag up to more than $700 by adding an “S,” according to Spruce Crafts.

Fortunately, you can easily equip yourself with details about mint marks to avoid such blunders. You can research specifics of the mint mark, including which years appear on what coins and the coins’ composition.

Want to shore up your detective skills? Start by learning how to read the label on a certified proof coin. It might one day help you avoid purchasing fake gold.

Reading a Coin’s Story

Generally speaking, people appreciate knowing where the items they own come from. Whether it’s an automobile “Imported from Detroit,” a smartphone “Designed by Apple in California,” or any of a dozen big-name brands made in the U.S., the maker location provides information about a product’s authenticity and reliability.

At U.S. Money Reserve, we understand this. It’s one reason we make client education a priority. We know an informed buyer helps to be a protected buyer, one able to identify a precious metals company that stands behind their gold and silver coins and bars. Education offers a level of peace of mind that can be difficult to find today.

When you’re ready to add to your portfolio, you can call on our experienced Account Executives. They will help you select only the highest-quality gold and silver coins for your needs. Call 1-844-307-1589 to learn more today.


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