Consumer Information

“First Strike” or “First Release” Designations

Coin dealers and grading services may use these terms in varying ways. Some base their use on the dates appearing on United States Mint product packaging or packing slips, or on the dates of product releases or ceremonial coin strike events. Consumers should carefully review this information along with each dealer’s or grading service’s definition of “first strike” or “first release” when considering purchasing coins with these designations.

Colorized and Plated Coins

To date, the United States Mint has not produced or sold colorized or gold- or silver-plated coins. Many private businesses purchase genuine U.S. coins and colorize them. The most common colorization techniques involve painting an enamel finish on the coin or applying a holographic or superimposed image to the coin.

Foreign Coins

Each year a small number of foreign governments issue coins with designs that feature subjects from United States culture and history, such as U.S. Presidents and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Few, if any, of these coins, appear to be marketed within the country that issued them. It is important to note that even if they are denominated as “dollars,” they are not designed or manufactured by the United States Mint, and they are not legal tender in the U.S. They are promoted by private businesses in the U.S. for sale through newspaper, television and web advertisements.

Replicas of United States Coins

Some businesses produce copies or replicas of genuine U.S. coins. In many instances, the replicas are virtually identical to genuine U.S. coins. Thus, it can be extremely difficult for consumers to detect the difference prior to purchase. The Hobby Protection Act requires the word “COPY” permanently marked on all imitation coins and other numismatic items. Some businesses in China, however, produce unmarked imitations of pre-1950 United States coins and sell them on-line. In addition, some businesses sell unmarked “giant” or miniature replicas of U.S. coins.

Uncurrent Coins

Uncurrent coins are whole U.S. coins that are worn yet recognizable as to genuineness and denomination, and are machine countable. Uncurrent coins are redeemed by the Federal Reserve Banks, then forwarded to the Mint for disposition.

If you have questions, please contact your local FedCash® Services District Contacts.

Reuse

Uuncurrent or mutilated coins redeemed by the Mint are melted and reused in the manufacture of coinage strips.

Hot Items

The United States Mint frequently receives inquiries from consumers who have confused coin-related products from private companies with genuine United States coinage. Get information about these products, plus other coin-related issues.

Selling Jewelry or Other Items Incorporating Genuine U.S. Coins

Many businesses and other organizations create and/or sell jewelry and other collectibles that incorporate genuine U.S. coins. Review these guidelines if your business or organization intends to manufacture, advertise or sell jewelry or other items that incorporate genuine U.S. coins.

Links for Consumers

Consumers are sometimes confused or concerned about advertising they see for various coin-related products. This has led consumers to contact the United States Mint about issues relating to advertising, counterfeiting, investing and other consumer concerns. To help consumers find the answers they need, we’ve assembled the following links*.

U.S. Secret Service—Counterfeit Coins

The U.S. Secret Service—Counterfeit Coins helps consumers identify counterfeit coins, especially coins that have been altered to look like rare coins.

The American Numismatic Association

The American Numismatic Association serves as a nonprofit, educational organization, chartered by Congress, dedicated to collecting and studying coins, paper money, tokens and medals.

The American Numismatic Society

The American Numismatic Society serves to advance the study and appreciation of coins, medals and related objects, maintains a numismatic collection and library, supports scholarly research and publications and sponsors educational and interpretive programs for diverse audiences.

U.S. Postal Inspection Service—Mail Fraud

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigates and enforces over 200 federal statutes related to crimes involving the U.S. Mail, the Postal Service and its employees. They provide consumers the opportunity to file an electronic Mail Fraud Complaint.

Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the nation’s consumer protection agency. The FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection works for the consumer to prevent fraud, deception and unfair business practices in the marketplace.

The Consumer Action Handbook

This everyday guide to being a smart shopper is full of helpful tips about preventing identity theft, understanding credit, filing a consumer complaint, and much more.

National Association of Attorneys General

Contact your state Attorney General’s Office to find out if any complaints have been filed against a business or to file a complaint with your state’s consumer protection division.

Better Business Bureau

Contact the Better Business Bureau to find out if any complaints have been filed against a business or to file a complaint with your state’s consumer protection division.

The appearance of external links on the United States Mint’s website should not be construed to imply that the United States Mint sponsors or endorses the target site’s organization or its products, services and information. The United States Mint does not control or influence, and it cannot be responsible for, the content of the target web site.

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