The year 2017 marks the 225th Anniversary of the US Mint. In celebration, the Mint is releasing a number of coins to honor it, but there is one coin that they have kept secret, giving the public and collectors a big surprise. This year and this year alone, the cents from Philadelphia will include a ‘P’ mint mark. I haven’t found any information about it on the usmint.gov website, but it has been leaked out. Since the first Large Cent in 1793, there has never been a ‘P’ mint mark to appear on a cent.
Philadelphia was the only US mint until the 1830’s when Charlotte, Dahlonega, GA, and New Orleans would open branch offices. To distinguish which mint the coin came from, mint marks would be added. Charlotte coins would have a ‘C’ mint mark, Dahlonega, GA with a ‘D’ mint mark, New Orleans with an ‘O’ mint mark and Philadelphia with no mint mark. As time went on, other Mint offices would open. In 1854, San Francisco would open with an ‘S’ mint mark. Carson City, NV would open in 1870 with a ‘CC’ mint mark and Denver would open in 1906 with a ‘D’ mint mark. The Dahlonega mint closed after the beginning of the Civil War in 1861. So the ‘D’ mint mark was again available. During all this time, Philadelphia coins still had no mint mark.
So When Did the First ‘P’ Mint Mark Occur
The first time the mint mark would appear the Philadelphia Mint would be 1942, 150 years after the mint first opened. This would happen on the Jefferson Nickel when the mint changed its composition. Nickel and copper were in demand during World War II so the mint produced nickels with 35% silver. To distinguish between the silver composed nickels and nickel composed nickels, the mint marks were moved to above Monticello on the reverse and made it larger. Philadelphia minted nickel composed and silver composed nickels. To distinguish between the two, the silver nickel would have a large ‘P’ mint mark. They kept the ‘P’ mint marks on the nickels until the end of the war in 1945. In 1946, the nickel went back to its original composition and the ‘P’ mint mark disappeared again.
The Next Time the ‘P’ Mint Mark appeared
In 1946, there were only 3 mints producing coins: Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco. The West Point ‘W’ mint mark wouldn’t appear until the 1980s. From 1965 to 1967, no mint marks were used from any mint. The ‘P’ mint mark would not appear again until 1979. This would be the first year that the Susan B. Anthony Dollars were minted and the ‘P’ mint mark stayed on it from 1979 to 1981 and 1999.
By 1980, all circulated US coins would have a ‘P’ mint mark for Philadelphia except the cent. Not sure why it was ignored on the cent. Supposedly, there were years when West Point minted pennies without a mint mark, but there is no way to distinguish between a Philadelphia or West Point penny during those years.
Keep Checking Your Change
I haven’t seen any 2017 Lincoln Cents yet. Maybe it too early seeing it’s only February, but I’m going to keep checking my change for one. Hopefully, I’ll find one soon. Have you found a 2017 cent with a ‘P’ mint mark yet?