Heads, it's Washington; tails, it's Washington
The New Jersey quarter is not the first coin to have the same President (Washington) on both sides. Do you know the other coin and President? The answer is in another Fun Fact
Lady Liberty saved a Civil War sea captain!
Lt. George Dixon's sweetheart gave him a $20 gold coin for luck before he left to fight in the Civil War. It seems that the coin saved his life when a bullet hit the image of Lady Liberty in his pants pocket instead of wounding his leg. He carried the coin with him until he died years later in a submarine battle. The bent coin, found recently in the sunken sub, helped to identify Lt. Dixon's nearby body.
We're the Mint that makes the most!
The United States Mint makes more coins and medals by far than any other mint in the world. We have made not only our own coins, but coins for some other countries as well.
You might have little round sandwiches in your pocket...
Most of our coins are metal sandwiches. The outside layers are three-quarters copper and one-quarter nickel, and the "filling" is solid copper. Pennies are made of zinc coated with copper. Only nickels are one solid material—that same 75% copper/25% nickel alloy. Would you like fries with that?
It takes time to "take a shine" to proof coins...
How do they get proof coins so shiny? Before the images are struck on the blanks, the blanks are highly polished. And not only the blanks, but the dies that stamp them are polished too! It's easier to polish the background field on the die, where it's raised, than on the finished coin...but it still takes extra time.
Black Diamond was not a "model" model!...
Legend has it that James Fraser picked Black Diamond, a buffalo who lived in New York's Bronx Zoo, as the model for the nickel he was designing. You'd think BD would be honored, but he refused to pose! He kept turning to watch Fraser draw instead of standing sideways. Fraser had to get a zookeeper to catch the animal's eye while Fraser snuck around for a side view.
The buffalo on the nickel wasn't always "on the level"...
The first buffalo nickel (1913) showed the bison standing on a mound. The hill was soon changed to a more level plain to make more room for the words "five cents" and protect them from wear—the coin had trouble with wear throughout its 25-year life.
The man on the coin may be still alive!
American coins seldom show living people ever since George Washington refused to appear on a coin because kings often put themselves on coins. But we sometimes break this "rule," and the governor of Alabama was the first. In 1921, Alabama's Governor Thomas Kilby was shown next to the Governor of 100 years earlier—William Bibb—on the Alabama Centennial Half Dollar. The first President on a coin while still alive was Calvin Coolidge in 1926.
After 100 years, the Louisiana Purchase was set in gold.
To remember the Louisiana Purchase on its 100th anniversary, the Mint made not one but two gold dollar coins—the first commemorative gold dollars. The dollars were sold at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, held in honor of the Purchase. One of the coins had a picture of President Jefferson on the front, who was in office during the Purchase. The other showed President McKinley, who signed the law that financed the fair just before he was assassinated in 1901.
When a coin is made, which side is the top?
You may know that coins at the United States Mint are struck with dies while lying down. But do you know whether it's the front or the back that goes in the top die? Well, there's no law about this, but usually the front (obverse) comes down from above as both sides are struck at the same time.