US Coin Collecting Trivia
A potpourri of arcane numismatic knowledge:
The word "money" comes from the Roman Goddess Moneta, who was the goddess of coinage and protector of the finances of the Roman Empire.
The point at which worn-out coins are usually pulled from circulation is when they won't go through the automatic sorting machine at the bank. The bank then sends these back to one of the three mints. As long as they don't jam the machines, coins can circulate indefinitely.
Although George Washington is a face we know well from the quarter, he himself opposed the idea of putting his - or any other president's - face on a coin. His reason? Too much like monarchy. At the time, when the British empire ruled half the world, King George VI had his face on every coin issued in a country under British rule. It was devotion to this ideal that the United States was a non-monarchy that led to having Lady liberty on virtually every coin until the 20th century.
The reason why coin portraits are shown in profile while currency and stamp portraits are full-face is because it is too difficult to get the correct facial detail on a full face portrait - since the relief only sits within a maximum space of 16/1000ths of an inch from the surface to the field.
Although the mint makes somewhere around 13 million pennies per year, half of them disappear from circulation within the first year. This is usually attributed to the fact that pennies are cumbersome to spend in large amounts, and end up in a jar on the nightstand.
The Indian on the Indian Head/Buffalo nickel of 1913 to 1938 isn't any particular person - instead it is a composite portrait of a Cheyenne Named Chief Two Moons, an Iroquois named Chief John Big Tree, and a Sioux named Chief Iron Tail.
Each penny costs the US Mint 4/5ths of a cent to make. Compare that to quarters, which cost five cents to make.
Although provisions were made by the United States coinage laws for the "mill", which would be worth 1/1000th of a dollar or 1/10th of a cent, no mills have ever been minted. And yet real estate taxes have always been computed in mills, then rounded off.
Sacagawea, depicted on the current US dollar coin for her role in the Lewis and Clark expedition, was not the only Indian on that expedition, being accompanied by several more Indian guides. Her role was as interpreter rather than guide, she was supposed by many to have been as young as 16 when she joined the expedition, and she bore a son, Jean-Baptiste, during her travels, which the captain helped deliver.
By the way, Sacagawea wasn't the first real woman (as opposed to the fictitious Lady Liberty) on a US coin. Neither was Susan B Anthony. That distinction goes to Queen Isabella of Spain, in 1893, who was displayed on the commemorative quarter.
Benjamin Franklin, honored with both past portraiture on the half-dollar and currently on the hundred-dollar bill, never held an official government rank higher than postmaster general.
The United States has not always had only pennies, nickels, dimes, half-dollars, and dollar coins. It used to make 20-cent pieces, three-cent and two-cent pieces. The two-cent piece, beginning in 1864, was the first United States coin to bear the motto "In God We Trust". The three-cent piece was known by it's nick-name, the "fish scale", because being of silver content was very small.