What is 'The Coinage Act Of 1792'

The Coinage Act of 1792, more commonly known as the Mint Act or the Coinage Act, was a regulation passed by Congress on April 2, 1792 that established the U.S. Mint. This act also created five officers of the Mint and laid the foundation for the modern U.S. currency.

BREAKING DOWN 'The Coinage Act Of 1792'

The Coinage Act of 1792 established the U.S. coinage system and placed the Mint at the seat of the U.S. government. The law created U.S. eagles, dollars, dismes (dimes), cents, and half-denominations of each unit; the value of each of these coins was dependent on the type (gold, silver, copper) and amount of material used to make them.

Eagles, half eagles, and quarter eagles were minted from gold, and worth $10, $5, and $2.50 respectively. Dollars, half dollars, quarter dollars, dismes and half dismes were minted from silver, and were worth $1, $0.50, $0.25, $0.10, and $0.05 respectively. Cents and half cents were minted from copper, and were worth $0.01 and $0.005 respectively.

The Act pinned the value of the U.S. silver dollar to that of the Spanish silver dollar, which was circulating widely at the time; the Mint employed a 0.900 fine standard to the silver coinage of 1794 and 1795, as compared to the 0.8924+ fine standard employed by the Spanish dollar. The Coinage Act established a decimal system for U.S. currency, and created the United States silver dollar as the nation’s unit of currency.

Design of Coins

The Coinage Act further dictated the markings to be inscribed upon the coins minted. One side of each coin was to be inscribed with the word “Liberty,” the year of the coinage, and an image symbolizing liberty. The reverse side of the silver and gold coins was to be inscribed with the image of the eagle and the words “United States of America.” Copper coins were to be inscribed with their denomination on the reverse side as well.

Additional Provisions

The Coinage Act allowed any person to have silver or gold bullion coined at the Mint, or exchange it for the equivalent value of coin, free of charge. The Mint Act established quality control measures for the assaying of coins that would remain in effect until 1980, when the United States Assay Commission was abolished. The law also established a penalty of death for the debasement of gold or silver coins, or the embezzlement of same by the officers of the mint; this portion of the Act remains in effect today, although the minting of silver and gold coinage is now extremely limited.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Trillion Dollar Coin

    A gimmick or good idea? The trillion dollar coin is a theoretical ...
  2. Bullion Coins

    Bullion coins are precious metal coins that are generally bought ...
  3. Silver

    Silver is an element commonly used in jewelry, coins, electronics ...
  4. Krugerrand Gold Coin

    Krugerrand gold coins are South African gold coins first minted ...
  5. Loonie

    Loonie is a colloquial term that refers to the $1 Canadian coin, ...
  6. Silver ETF

    A silver exchange-traded fund (ETF) invests primarily in raw ...
Related Articles
  1. Insights

    How Mint.com Makes Money

    Mint.com has built out multiple revenue streams from its free personal financial data-gathering tool. Find out how Mint has greatly benefited from the 2009 acquisition by Intuit.
  2. Investing

    5 Best Bets For Buying Gold

    Gold is a desirable alternative for those looking to diversify their risk. Jewelry, bullion, gold-mining companies' stocks, and ETFs are some of the available investment vehicles.
  3. Insights

    Giant Gold Coin Stolen From German Museum

    The 221-pound coin would be worth close to $4.5 million at current gold prices.
  4. Investing

    10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About The Money In Your Wallet

    Here are some fun and interesting facts about the money that you use on a day-to-day basis.
  5. Managing Wealth

    JetBlue's Lower-Priced First-Class Airline Seats

    JetBlue is expanding its Mint service to provide more relatively low-cost first class seats. Just how comfortable are they?
  6. Investing

    The Best Way To Buy Silver

    Discover whether ETFs or physical bullion is the best way for investors to get exposure to silver.
  7. Tech

    New Counterfeit-Proof £1 introduced by the British Royal Mint

    Dubbed "the most secure coin in the world", the new British £1 coin entered circulation March 28.
  8. Managing Wealth

    Investing In Precious Metals

    Buying precious metals can act as a hedge against economic turmoil.
  9. Insights

    Are $1 Coins A Better Option Than $1 Bills?

    We look at how much the government could save if it took $1 bills out of circulation.
  10. Investing

    SLV: iShares Silver Trust ETF

    Learn about the iShares Silver Trust, an exchange-traded fund that invests primarily in silver and is affected by risks unique to commodities.
RELATED FAQS
  1. Who decides when to print money in India?

    Find out the role of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), and the amount of authority given to the government to issue currency ... Read Answer >>
  2. Has gold been a good investment over the long term?

    Examine the investment performance of gold dating back to 1933, when President Roosevelt required all gold bullion, coins ... Read Answer >>
  3. How are investment banks regulated in the United States?

    Read about the extensive regulations placed on investment banks in the United States, starting with the Glass-Steagall Act ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center