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History Of Coin Mint Marks

Jul 1, 2008
One other problem that could possibly occur that mint marks protects against is a dishonest mint officially debasing the coin by putting less precious metal within the coin than specified.

The Greeks developed the first mint marks, which were called "Magistrate Marks" and would name the Magistrate who was in charge of producing that particular coin. In many civilizations debasing a coin is a very serious offense and punishable by death. An example of this practice occurred in 1649 when the directors of a Spanish colony at Potosi, known today as Bolivia, were condemned to death for seriously debasing their coins. When the coins were inspected, the initials of the assayer and the mint mark were immediate identifiers.

The origin of mint marks can be dated back to the days of ancient Greece and Rome, but was not established as a practice in the United States until the Congressional Act of March 3, 1835. The Director of the Mint was able to set mint marks into coins to be able to identify which facility actually stamped the coins, this standardized the production of these coins and established responsibility for the coins.

During the early year of minting in the United States the Philadelphia mint was the only facility in operation, so identifying where coins were made was not a necessity. In the United States all circulating coins are produced at the facility located in Philadelphia with the P mint mark. The exception is the penny which does not contain a mint mark at all. Mint marks are made as inconspicuously as possible without losing there main function.

With the introduction of other United State Mint facilities there has had to be additional mint marks added to tell which specific mint coins where produced at. Coins produced at the Denver facility carry the letter D, San Francisco coins carry the letter S, and West Point coins carry the letter W mint marks. All the master dies used at these facilities are manufactured at the Die Manufacturing Division located at the Philadelphia Mint. Collectors in the United States pay extra close attention to the mint marks on their coins, because they tend to make a big difference toward the value of certain coins of the same type and date.

A mint mark can be either a letter, a combination of letters, or a symbol that specifies a particular mint facility where a coin was produced. Variations or additions that indicate the origin may include the marks of the mint masters and the assayers, but a mint mark represents the enduring institution. Coins from ancient times and modern time of many countries have been produced with no mint marks, but usually only because there was only one mint facility.

On the coins produced from the Madrid Mint you will find a star containing six points. While mints in Segovia, Jubia, Barcelona, and Seville also use stars as their mintage symbol, each star contains different numbers of points to specify which mint the coin was actually produced at. After the spread of territories and existing rules by emperors, mint marks began to originate in these ancient Roman times. Almost at the end of the B. C. period and during most of the days of the Republic, coins were confined to Rome and in the final half century of the Republic military leaders continued to assert the rights to these coins.
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant about rare coins, stamp collections, and rare collectibles. Follow these links to find the best marketplace for: rare coins, collectors, and mint marks.
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