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Coin Collecting Merit Badge

We have put together a program to help local Scout troops earn the Coin Collecting Merit Badge.  First, we will send you a packet in the mail.  Then, as a troop, you will review the resources below in preparation for your visit to our shop.  Once here, you will complete the hands-on portion of the merit badge.  We will complete the remaining requirements, look at some examples of early pioneer money issued in Salt Lake City in the 1800’s, learn what clues to look for to tell if a coin is genuine or counterfeit and finish by looking through some old coins to help fill their coin folders.  There is no cost to your troop to participate in this activity.  We will supply coin folders and a handful of coins to get them started.  Rust Coin Scout Nights are held on the first and third Wednesday evenings of the month and are by appointment only.  Your troop should arrive promptly at 5:15pm and the activity will last about an hour depending on the number of boys in your troop. Call us at 801-363-4014 to set up your appointment!  NOTE: Appointments are by troop only.  Please have your adult leader contact us.


How Coins Are Made




Where are the active US Mint facilities?

The United States currently has four operating mints: Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco, and West Point.
The first Philadelphia mint opened in 1793.  There have been three other mints in Philadelphia since then with the latest opening in 1969.  Coins that were minted at this location will either have no mint mark or will be marked with the capital letter ‘P’.
In 1863, the Denver mint began as an assay office.  It officially opened its doors as a branch mint in 1906.  Coins minted at this location will bear the capital letter ‘D’ as a mint mark.
Opened in 1854 to serve the gold fields of the California Gold Rush, the San Francisco branch was established quickly.  The first location was soon outgrown and a new building was constructed.  This building was one of the few to survive the infamous 1906 earthquake.  This facility remained operational until 1937 when they built yet another new building.  A capital ‘S’ appears on coins minted at the San Francisco mint.
The West Point Bullion Depository of the West Point Branch was opened in 1937 but did not gain mint status until 1988.  The West Point Mint produces commemorative and proof coins.  Coins minted at this facility will either have no mint mark or will have a capital ‘W’ on them.  
Five other branch mints have operated at one time or another. One was located in Charlotte, North Carolina (1838-1861).  Coins minted there bear a ‘C’ mint mark.  The next was in Dahlonega, Georgia (1838-1861).  Coins minted there bear a ‘D’ mint mark.  Another was in New Orleans, Louisiana (1838-1909).  Coins minted there bear an ‘O’ mint mark.  The next was in Carson City, Nevada (1870-1893).  Coins minted there bear the ‘CC’ mint mark.  Finally, another mint location was in Manila, Philippines (1920-1945).  Coins minted there bear an ‘M’ mint mark.  


Explain these collecting terms  

Obverse: The front face of the coin which is commonly referred to as “heads”
Reverse: The back face of the coin which is commonly referred to as “tails”
Reeding: Refers to the “reeded” or grooved lines that surround the perimeter of some coins.  This process was originally used to discourage gold or silver to be shaved off of coins.  If shaving was attempted, the reeding would reveal obvious tampering to the coin’s edge.  Reeding was intended to protect metal weight integrity.
Clad: Outer layers of one metal that are bonded to a core of a different metal
Type set: A coin set that is based on coin design or type
Date set: A coin set that focuses on obtaining every year for a series of coins

Grading Progression

This video will take us through the progression of wear on a Morgan dollar.



Encapsulated coins (Slabs)

This term is slang for the hard plastic holders used by third party grading services such as PCGS, NGC, ANACS, etc.  They provide excellent long-term storage for your coins but take up a significant amount of space and prevent the coin from being removed without breaking the holder.  The company encapsulating the coin will assign a grade to the coin.  This provides a professional opinion independant of the buyer or seller of the coin to help provide a guide to its value.


Flips are made of plastic, have two pockets, and are a very popular way of storing coins in a collection.  They are inexpensive and allow for great visibility.  Many reputable sources warn against using flips that contain PVC because this chemical is very damaging.   

2x2’s, as the name suggests, measure 2” by 2” and are made of cardboard with a thin plastic film in the center made to hold all different denominations of coins.  Like flips, they are inexpensive, convenient, and provide some protection from the elements for your coins.

There are numerous coin albums available to organize your collection.  While they are a beautiful way to store and display your coins, they are bulky and take up much more storage room than flips.  Some older albums even use PVC which is very damaging and pages containing sulfur will lead to toning.


State Quarter Program

Started in 1999, the United States Mint Quarter Program was an eleven-year enterprise that featured each of the 50 states in the order that they were admitted into the Union or when they ratified the Constitution.  Originally scheduled to run for ten years, it was extended to eleven years to include the District of Columbia, the five US Territories, and the Protectorates. Production for each quarter lasted about ten weeks and after that they would never be minted again.  The obverse side of each coin features George Washington and the words “United States of America”, “Liberty”, “In God We Trust”, and “Quarter Dollar”.  The reverse side depicts emblems associated with each state.  Residents from the state were given a say in what the reverse design would depict.  

Legal Tender

Legal tender is valid currency that may be used to pay for goods and services.  This is usually country specific.  For example, a creditor must accept U.S. dollars as payment because they have been declared legal tender in the U.S.



History of United States Money






Whose face is on our currency?


$1 -- George Washington


$2 -- Thomas Jefferson


$5 -- Abraham Lincoln


$10 -- Alexander Hamilton


$20 -- Andrew Jackson


$50 -- Ulysses Grant


$100 -- Benjamin Franklin




Additional Resources