United States Money

( Originally Published 1918 )

Money, or the medium of exchange, in the United States consists of gold, silver, nickel and composition coins, and the paper money issued by the government and the national banks.

Coins of the United States

The following tables show the denominations, weight, and fineness of the coins of this country.


One dollar ($1) 23.22 2.58 25.80
Quarter eagle ($2.50) 58.05 6.45 64.50
Three dollars ($3) 69.66 7.74 77.40
Half eagle ($5) 116.10 12.90 129.00
Eagle ($10) 232.20 25.80 258.00
Double eagle ($20) 464.40 51.60 516.00


Standard dollar 371.25 41.25 412.50
Half dollar 173.61 19.29 192.90
Quarter dollar 86.805 9.645 96.45
Dime 34.722 3.858 38.58

Prior to the Act of February 21, 1853, all silver coins were legal tender in all payments whatsoever. The Act of February 21, 1853, reduced the weight of all silver coins of less denomination than the silver dollar about 7 per cent, to be coined on government account only, and made them legal tender in payment of debts for all sums not exceeding five dollars. No foreign coins are legal tender in the United States.

Troy weights are used, and, while metric weights are by law assigned to the half and quarter dollar and dime, troy weights will continue to be employed, 15.432 grains being considered as the equivalent of a gram, agreeably to the Act of July 28, 1866.

The weight of $1,000 in United States gold coin is 53.75 troy ounces, equivalent to 3.68 pounds avoirdupois. The weight of $1,000 in standard silver dollars is 859,375 troy ounces, equivalent to 58.92 pounds avoirdupois, and the weight of $1,000 in subsidiary silver is 803.75 troy ounces, equivalent to 55.11 pounds avoirdupois.

Where Coins Are Made

The coins of the United States are made at the mint in Philadelphia, and at the branch mints in New Orleans, San Francisco, Carson City, and Denver. Those coined in Philadelphia have no mint mark on them, but those coined in New Orleans have an O on the reverse side, below the eagle; those coined at San Francisco an S; those coined at Carson City, CC; and those coined at Denver a D.

Legal Tender Value of Coins

Legal tender is a term used to designate money which may be lawfully used in the payment of debts.

Gold Coin is legal tender at its nominal or face value for all debts, public and private, when not below the standard weight and fineness pre-scribed by law; and when below such standard and legal fineness it is legal tender in proportion to its weight.

The Standard Silver Dollar is legal tender for all debts, public and private, without regard to the amount, except where otherwise expressly stipulated in the contract.

The Trade Dollar, a silver piece no longer coined, is not legal tender for any amount; nor is any of the commemorative coinage, such as the Columbian Exposition issue.

The Subsidiary Silver Coins, half dollars, quarters and dimes, are legal tender in sums not exceeding ten dollars, in payment of all public and private debts.

Minor Coins, all coins of the United States of smaller denomination than dimes, are legal tender for single payments not exceeding twenty-five cents.

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