How nice that you're here! Did you know that the United States Mint not only makes coins but medals too? Yes, indeed! Coins and medals are both good items to collect, so I like to know about both.
Some collectors like coins better. But some prefer medals. Some have an absolute medal mania!
...Say, that's a good name for a Web page!
But what's the difference between a coin and a medal, you might ask. After all, they're both disk-shaped, made of metal, and have words and pictures stamped into them.
The difference is that coins are what they call "legal tender" and medals are not. You can buy soap and soda with coins but not with medals. Medals don't have denominations like "quarter" or "dollar." Medals are used as souvenirs or awards to honor people or events, not to spend.
Another difference is that medals usually are made of precious metals like silver or gold, while today's coins usually are made of more common metals like nickel and zinc.
And there are other kinds of awards besides medals.
Since medals are not money, they can be made by other organizations besides the United States Mint as long as they're not official United States Mint medals.
When the Mint makes national medals on behalf of Congress, they commemorate major national events or honor people who have done things that made our country or the world better. The kinds of medals that the Mint makes include:
Maybe you've heard of our nation's highest military award, the Medal of Honor. Congress gives this medal to soldiers, sailors, and airmen who have risked their lives being brave and helpful, and the Mint helped design the first one. The President presents this medal on behalf of Congress, and sometimes to people who were not soldiers.
Congress also awards a medal known as the Congressional Gold Medal, which the Mint makes. This medal also honors great events and people, but the people are usually not in the armed forces.
Each Congressional medal requires a law, and if the law allows it, the Mint strikes bronze copies (90% copper, 10% zinc) called "list medals"—often in two different sizes—that the public can buy.
This Camp Coin workshop is all about medals and what people did to earn them. I'm sure you'll find a fortune in fascinating facts here!
It will take me some time to put the collection together, but I will group the medals by theme. The first theme I've chosen is Black History, medals awarded to famous African-Americans. Click on the title below so you can see the collection.