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Obsolete Coins  
 
The U.S. Mint has been striking coins since 1793, and over the years some unusual denominations have appeared.  They are no longer made, but each of these
“obsolete coins” served a purpose.  When they were made, of course, they were
 not necessarily considered unusual, because they were made for circulation and
could be found in pocket change.  In some cases, the obsolete coins were made
for many decades, whereas in other cases they were made for just a few years
before being withdrawn. 
 
The first coin that collectors today consider to be an obsolete denomination is
the Half Cent.  Issued from 1793 to 1857, this copper coin was about the same
size as an English Half Penny – only slightly smaller than a modern Quarter
At the time it was issued, the Half Cent served an important function in commerce because many items were priced in half-cent increments. 
 
 
One of the most unusual obsolete coins was the Two Cent Piece that was made
from 1864 to 1873.  Exactly twice the weight of an Indian Head Penny, it was
introduced during the Civil War to help alleviate a severe coin shortage.  It was
the first U.S. coin to feature the motto “In God We Trust.”  The Three Cent Piece
was first struck as a silver coin in 1851 and was the smallest silver coin in
U.S. history.  It was initially introduced in order to make it easier to buy a 3¢
postage stamp (the cost of mailing a letter).  The silver Three Cent Piece was
made until 1873, but a copper-nickel coin was also made from 1865 to 1889.
 
 
The shortest-lived coin in U.S. history was the Twenty Cent Piece, which was
made for circulation only in 1875 and 1876 (although Proofs were also made in
1877 and 1878).  It was introduced in an effort to align American coinage more
closely with the decimal system and was planned as a replacement for the
Quarter, but its similarity in size and design to the well-established Quarter
made it unpopular with the public.