Oldest American Coins in History

10 Oldest American Coins in History

Old American coins are beautiful relics of history. It gives you an idea of what life must have been in the past and how time changed the way people live. That’s why you might have thought, “What are the oldest American coins in history?”

It was only in 1792 that the Coinage Act was enacted. This led to the creation of a national mint and the creation of US coins. Before that, there was already a mix of domestic and foreign coins circulating.

However, for the purpose of our list today, we are going to include American coins that were officially recognized and circulated by the United States.

So, without any further delay, here are the 10 oldest American Coins in history.

10. Trime

Issued: 1851 (171 years ago as of 2022)
Composition: silver (90%) and copper (10%)
Design: star and shield of the Union
Value: twenty dollars

Trimephoto source: Wikipedia

The trime is a three-cent silver that was created and circulated from 1851 to 1872. The trime, which was domantly made of silver, has a high acceptance rate, while other silver coins were hoarded and used for other purposes.

Because of the increased supply of gold during the California Gold Rush, silver was used to buy them. Aside from that, the postage rate was reduced to three cents, which made it easier to export silver. All this moved the congress in 1851 to authorize the use of silver coins.

Did You Know?

Cornelius Vermeule, the famous art historian, considered the trime has the ugliest design compared to the rest of other US coins. The trime was actually made that way because it was the best way to make it look different from other coins.

9. Double eagle

Issued: 1849 (173 years ago as of 2022)
Composition: gold (90%) and copper (10%)
Design: Turban head and heraldic eagle
Value: twenty dollars

Double eaglephoto source: Wikipedia

A double eagle was worth $20 during its circulation. It was created along with the quarter eagle, half eagle, and eagle as authorized by the Act of Congress. The double eagle got its name because it is worth twice of the eagle, which is $10.

Did You Know?

The double eagle was produced during the California Gold rush in 1849. By the time of President Theodore Roosevelt, a new face of the double eagle was sought. Roosevelt chose Augustus Saint-Gaudens to design the new double eagle. However, Saint-Gaudens and his chief engraver were not up to the task.

The situation worsened when Saint-Gaudens health declined. Before his death, he had already designed the eagle and double eagle, which was later called Saint-Gaudens double eagle.

8. Gold dollar

Issued: 1849 (173 years ago as of 2022)
Composition: gold (90%) and copper (10%)
Design: Turban head and heraldic eagle
Value: one dollars

Gold dollarphoto source: Wikipedia

The gold dollar coin was circulated from 1849 to 1889. Although it was regularly issued for about forty years, it was almost never created. From the 1830s to 1840s, many proposed that a gold dollar should be made.

However, it was only in the late 1840s that the congress were convinced to create one as the supply for gold increased due to the California gold rush. It’s worth noting though that it is the congress who also ended the gold dollar in 1889.

Did You Know?

James B. Longracre was the Mint Chief Engraver who designed all the three designs of gold dollars. Compared to other coins, it was the gold dollar that had the smallest diameter with just 0.5 inch.

7. Eagle

Issued: 1795 (227 years ago as of 2022)
Composition: gold (90%) and copper (10%)
Design: Turban head and heraldic eagle
Value: ten dollars

Eaglephoto source: Wikipedia

The eagle coin is worth $10 and is made of almost pure gold. The eagle was the largest coin circulated prior to 1933. Other coins were the mill, cent, dime, and dollar. The United States followed European standards when it comes to base-unit denominations. This means that the value of the coin was based on the precious metals it was made of.

Did You Know?

The eagle coin has already been discontinued since 1929. However, in 1984, after more than 50 years, an eagle coin was created as part of the SUmmer Olympics celebration. In 2003, an eagle coin was once again issued to honor the first flight of the Wright brothers.

6. Half eagle

Issued: 1795 (227 years ago as of 2022)
Composition: gold (90%) and copper (10%)
Design: Turban head and small eagle
Value: five dollars

Half eaglephoto source: Wikipedia

Like the quarter eagle, the half eagle coin was first minted in 1795 until 1929. The half eagle is made primarily with gold and a little copper. They are not just minted in Philadelphia, but also in Charlotte, Dahlonega, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Denver.

Did You Know?

The United States first minted gold coin is the half eagle. The production of the half eagle was started under the Coinage Act of 1792. Since its first appearance, the half eagle underwent various design changes. Some of its designs include the turban head, draped bust, classic head, liberty head, and Indian head.

5. Quarter eagle

Issued: 1795 (227 years ago as of 2022)
Composition: gold (90%) and copper (10%)
Design: Turban head and quarter eagle
Value: two dollars and fifty cents

Quarter eaglephoto source: Wikipedia

The quarter eagle was among the coins that were struck not just in the Philadelphia Mint, but also in other branch mints in Denver, San Francisco, Dahlonega, New Orleans, and Charlotte. There were times when the quarter eagle was discontinued because of various reasons. For example, there are no quarter eagle coins made between 1808 and 1821 and from 1915 to 1925.

Did You Know?

The quarter eagle comes with different designs as it evolved over time. The first design was the capped bust or also known as the turban head. Next, there was the classic head, liberty head, and Indian head.

4. Large cent

Issued: 1793 (229 years ago as of 2022)
Composition: copper
Design: Chain and flowing hair (other designs exist)
Value: 1/100 of a United States dollar

Large centphoto source: Wikipedia

Just like the half cent, the large cent was minted in 1793 and continued until 1857. At that time, the one-cent coin, known as the penny, replaced the large cent.

As the large cent, it is composed of twice the copper that the half cent has. If you have the coin, you’ll notice that it is heavier and bulkier than other typical coins.

Did You Know?

The Philadelphia Mint stopped producing large cents in 1815. It was the time when the United States was at war against Great Britain. The war affected coinage as raw materials can’t get to the United States. That’s why you won’t find a large cent with the year 1815.

3. Half cent

Issued: 1793 (229 years ago as of 2022)
Composition: copper
Design: Lady Liberty with braided hair
Value: five milles

Half centphoto source: Wikipedia

The half cent was first created in 1793 and throughout its history, it was minted with five various designs. In 1857, by the power of the Coinage Act 1857, the half dime was discontinued.

The five designs include Liberty Cap (facing left), Liberty Cap (facing right), Draped Bust, Classic Head, and Braided Hair.

Did You Know?

The half cent was considered to be the smallest coin ever minted in the history of the United States. It has a diameter of 23.5 mm and a thickness of 2 mm. The edge of the coin was lettered from 1793 to 1797, plain from 1794 to 1857, and gripped in 1797. All the half cent coins were minted in the Philadelphia Mint.

2. Half dime

Issued: 1792 (230 years ago as of 2022)
Composition: silver coin
Design: Flowing hair and eagle
Value: five cents

Half dimephoto source: Wikipedia

Also known as the half disme, the half dime coin is considered to be the first business strike coin. It was the first coin minted after the enactment of the Coinage Act of 1792. There is much debate about the value of the coin. Some say it’s not really an official coin, but a test piece. However, that’s subject to another topic.

Did You Know?

The word disme is actually a French word. It is supposed to be read as “deem.” However, most Americans don’t know how to pronounce it. Eventually, it was eventually called dime. When the dime was first created, there were about 1,500 half dismes produced.

1. Fugio cent

Issued: 1787 (235 years ago as of 2022)
Composition: copper
Design: Sun, sundial, 13 state chain links, “Mind your business,” “We are one”
Mass: 10.2 grams

Fugio centphoto source: Wikipedia

The Fugio cent is considered to be the oldest American coin in history. Also known as Franklin cent, the Fugio cent was designed by Benjamin Franklin. If you look into the coin, it has a close resemblance with the 1776 Continental Currency dollar coin, which was not circulated.

Did You Know?

Fugio means I flee or I fly in Latin. This refers to the sun and the sundial image on the coin, which signifies how time flies so fast.

 The message of the coin on its obverse side is, “Mind your business.” It reminds its holders to be mindful of whatever affairs or work they undertake.

On the reverse side, you’ll read, “We are one” with the 13 states represented by a chain linked together.

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