United States currency today consists of coins and paper money. Under federal law, only the Department of the treasury and the Federal System may issue U.S. currency. The Treasury issue all coins. The Federal Reserve issue paper currency called Federal Reserve notes. All U.S. currency carries the nation’s official motto, in Gold We Trust.

   Coins come in six denominations (values). These are (1) penny, or 1 cent; (2) nickel, or 5 cents; (3) dime, or 10 cents; (4) quarter, or 25 cents; (5) half dollar, or 50 cents; and (6) $1. All coins are made of alloys (mixtures of metals). Pennies are copper-coated zinc. Nickels are a mixture of copper-coated zinc. Nickels are mixture of copper and nickel. Dimes, quarters, half dollars, and dollars are made of three layers of metal. The core is pure copper. The outer layers of dimes, quarters, half dollars, and Susan B. Anthony dollars are an alloy of copper and nickel. The outer layers of golden dollars are an alloy of copper, zinc, manganese, and nickel.

   Dimes, quarters, half dollars, and Susan B. Anthony dollars have ridges called reeding or milling around  the Large U.S. bills include Federal Reserve notes in denominations of $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000. The government began withdrawing such bills from circulation in 1969.


 Edge. The reeding on a dime distinguishes in from a penny, which has a smooth edge. Coins must be dated with the year they were made and must bear the word liberty and the Latin motto E Pluribus Unum, meaning out of many, one. This motto refers to the creation of the United States from the original Thirteen Colonies.

   Mints in Denver and Philadelphia make most coins for general circulation. Mints in San Francisco and West Point, New York, make, mostly commemorative coins to mark special occasions, and gold and silver bullion  coins for investors. People buy bullion coins for the value of the metal they contain. Coins made in Denver are marked with a small D.A.P appears on most coins made in Philadelphia. Some coins made in West Point are marked with an s, and some made in West Point are marked with a W.

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