A long time ago people didn't use coins for money.
A long, long time ago, before your grandparents were born, people didn't use coins for money.
But they still needed to buy some things and sell others. So they used shells, salt, camels, fish, beads, feathers, and lots of other things as money.
That didn't work very well. Food spoiled. Salt blew away. Fish smelled! Then there was the question of value.
Take a camel for example. A camel is worth lots more to someone who wants to cross the desert than to a person who wants to travel around a lake.
And a young strong camel is worth more than an old tired camel. But how much more?
What kind of money lasts?
Not fish, that's for sure!
People decided that metal would be good to use as money because it was tough, didn't spoil, and was easy to carry.
And because everyone wanted precious metals like gold and silver, coins made of them had built-in value.
Making coins is called "minting." Today, the United States government makes our coins at mints located in Denver and Philadelphia.
They make 13 billion coins every year! How many is that? The two US mints made enough pennies last year to circle the world four times!
See the "D" under the date?
How can you tell what mint your coins came from? Look for the mint mark on the head side of the coin.
On the penny to the right, look at the the "D" under the date. That indicates that this coin comes from the Denver mint.
On other coins a tiny "P" refers to the Philadelphia mint.
Older coins might have an "O" or an "S". They came from mints in New Orleans (O) and San Francisco (S), which are no longer in use.
For more information about coins and mint marks go to the US Mint.
Click Abe's head for the answer.