Early U.S. Obsolete Coinage

In the broadest sense, Obsolete U.S. Coins are those denominations that are no longer in production: half cents, large cents, two cents, three cents, half dimes and twenty-cent pieces. They were struck for circulation in the late 18th and early to mid-19th century. To put it another way, the earliest US coinage dates from the time of the colonies. Later obsolete coins were struck until sometime after the Civil War. At our Learn Center you can discover more about early US coinage.

Colonial-era mints

From 1620 to 1776, the colonists largely relied on European coins for any commerce they conducted. In fact, the Spanish milled dollar, with its neat fractional parts in units up to 100, would serve as the foundation for the US dollar.

From 1781 to 1788, Massachusetts along with New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey coined money that has now passed into the history of US coinage. But as the leading trade colony in New England, Massachusetts produced the most coins. Three now-obsolete coins were struck with unique tree motifs: willow, oak and pine.

Two different obsolete coins have ties to author Nathaniel Hawthorne who wrote about the Salem witch trials in his classic short story "Young Goodman Brown" and about a marriage dowry in "The Whole History of Grandfather's Chair."

The Massachusetts Bay Colony was also concerned about the flow of its coins across colonial lines. It put a limit on the number of coins that could leave the colony and stationed border guards charged with searching trunks and purses, who could confiscate any amount of coins over the limit.

Passage of the federal Coinage Act of 1792 established a uniform national currency and allowed for the construction of the first US Mint in Philadelphia.

The value of obsolete US coins

Obsolete for more than 225 years, early American coins are considered rare. You might enjoy this blog we wrote in 2016 that talks about what these US obsolete coins earned at auction.

If you are curious about owning an early American coin, Littleton Coin has these obsolete American coins for your consideration.