Have you ever looked at your coins and noticed small letters on either side of the coin? Did you ever wonder what they meant or why they vary?
I’ll help you understand what these letters mean and a little bit about their history!
What Do SD and P Mean on Coins:
In 1838, the United States Mint started using mint marks to show where the coin was struck.
So, folks, just to give you some background, the practice of using different mint marks for coins struck at different facilities continued until 1968.
At that point, the Treasury Department decided to switch to a single mint mark for all non-proof coins struck at any of the three facilities.
They figured it would be more efficient that way. So, folks, let me clarify something here. Silver dollars minted between 1968 and 1970 don’t have any mint mark, but it wasn’t always like that.
Between 1938 and 1968, the United States had four Mints in operation. These were located in Philadelphia (without the letter P), San Francisco (S), Denver (D), and West Point (W).
So, if you come across an S or D on the obverse side of your coin, along with other lettering or symbols, it indicates that it was produced in San Francisco or Denver, respectively.
Similarly, if you spot a W or D on the reverse side of your coin, along with other lettering or symbols, it means that it was minted at West Point or Denver, respectively.
Lastly, if you notice a P on the obverse side of your coin without any other letters or symbols around it, or if there are no markings at all, it signifies that your coin was manufactured in Philadelphia.
Well, you see, mint marks are comprised of a couple of letters, sometimes three, that are situated on coins to indicate the location where that specific coin was produced.
I would say that the mint mark can typically be located on the back of a coin, except on certain commemorative coins and unique editions.
If you look at an American coin, it’s the same on both sides. If there’s a design on one side, there will be another design on the other.
So, when you come across a coin with no design on either side, you’ll notice that it only has a lettering or marking in its place.
These coins are commonly referred to as “plain” or “unmarked” coins.
Philadelphia Mint (P)
Mint marks indicate the mint where the coin was struck. They use several mint marks at the U.S. Mint, such as P and D for Philadelphia, S for San Francisco, O for New Orleans, and W for West Point.
The Philadelphia Mint does not include the mint mark on coins because this place does not have a letter associated with it.
Their job is to strike proof coins. The coins are made at the Philadelphia Mint.
Did you know that the first U.S. Mint was established in this location in 1792? It’s the oldest mint in the United States.
I want to let you know that the Philadelphia Mint is in charge of producing all the coins currently being used in the United States and its territories.
These coins include quarters, half dollars, dimes, nickels, pennies, and cents.
San Francisco Mint (S)
Proof coins are struck using a distinct process that imparts a matte finish and crisp edges. These unique proof coins are differentiated from the regular coins by the mint mark “S,” which is added when struck at the San Francisco Mint.
The S mint mark represents San Francisco, the city that was once the location of the U.S. Mint and where it remains today.
You can find the San Francisco mint mark on coins from 1968 until today, except for proof coins that don’t use a mint mark and some rare commemorative coins that also lack one.
You can also find the letter “S” on quarter dollars, dimes made after 1968, and silver bullion coins dated 2015 or later.
West Point Mint (W)
Well, you see, the West Point Mint located in New York is in charge of producing proof gold coins. And if you take a look at those coins, you’ll notice that they have a mint mark with the letter “W.”
So, what this means is that West Point is a branch of the United States Mint and not an independent entity like some of the other branches out there.
The San Francisco Mint (S) and Denver Mint (D) are branches of the same agency, but they each have their unique mint marks.
The West Point Mint, located in New York, produces proof coins. They established the mint in 1984.
Denver Mint (D)
The Denver Mint is responsible for striking coins and producing commemorative pieces.
Initially, the branch of the Philadelphia Mint was responsible for it, but since 1906, it has been struck by the Denver Mint.
On January 2nd, 1906, the facility was opened. This date is now referred to as “Denver Day” because it holds the same significance to Colorado’s history as July 4th does to other states like Massachusetts or Virginia.
Before you go…
Mint marks are a way to tell the origin of each coin. Many types of coins have a mint mark on them, including dimes and quarters. You can use these markings to determine where your coin was made if you’re interested in collecting coins from different locations or want to know more about your collection!
Check out my next article: “What Do Key Dates Mean for Coin Collectors?“