Why does US currency have a 25 cent piece and a 20 dollar bill instead of a 20 cent piece or 25 dollar bill?

Why does US currency have a 25 cent piece and a 20 dollar bill instead of a 20 cent piece or 25 dollar bill?

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Why does US currency have a 25 cent piece instead of a 20 cent piece? Why is there a 20 dollar bill instead of a 25 dollar bill? Why aren't both denominations the same, 20 or 25 for both the dollars and cents?

This is because Americans were used to dealing in quarters at the time the denomination was chosen. During the colonial period, a common unit of currency was one eighths of a Spanish real de a ocho. Since each of these Spanish dollars were worth eight Spanish reales it was habitual to divide the eight-real coin into 12.5% wedges known as bits. Two of these were therefore equivalent to 25% of the Spanish dollar, i.e. 25 cents.

When the nascent United States adopted its own currency standard, the original one dollar was based on the aforementioned Spanish dollar. The customary unit of two bits of the Spanish dollar thus became 25 cents of the equivalent United States dollar.

In 1793, Congress adopted decimal coinage - 100 cents to the dollar - to replace the eights into which Spanish dollars were divided. Nevertheless, old habits died hard. Congress also instructed the U.S,. Mint to coin quarter dollars. Quarters made no sense decimally, but they reflected the partition of a Spanish dollar into eight reales.

- Conlin, Joseph. The American Past: A Survey of American History, Volume II: Since 1865. Cengage Learning, 2013.

I originally thought it was because of best way to reduce number of coins needed before I read Semaphore's answer.

I thought it was designed this way due to efficiency: for example at all values between 0 and 1 dollar that ends in 0 or 5

5 cent = 1 coin

10 cent = 1 coin

15 cent = 2 coins

20 cent = 2 coins (1 coin if using 5/10/20)

25 cent = 1 coin (2 coins if using 5/10/20)

30 cent = 2 coins

35 cent = 2 coins (3 coins if using 5/10/20)

40 cent = 3 coins (2 coins if using 5/10/20)

45 cent = 3 coins

50 cent = 2 coins (3 coins if using 5/10/20)

55 cent = 3 coins (4 coins if using 5/10/20)

60 cent = 3 coins

65 cent = 4 coins

70 cent = 4 coins

75 cent = 3 coins (5 coins if using 5/10/20)

80 cent = 4 coins

85 cent = 4 coins (5 coins if using 5/10/20)

90 cent = 5 coins

95 cent = 5 coins (6 coins if using 5/10/20)

1 dollar = 4 coins (5 coins if using 5/10/20)

There are only 2 occasions that 5/10/20 uses less coins than 5/10/25

I think the real answer basically boils down to attrition. Over the years, the US has minted many denominations of coins, ranging from the half cent piece up to the $50 Half-Union coin: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coins_of_the_United_States_dollar#Obsolete_coins

Most of them have fallen out of use for various reasons, mostly because having many denominations proved inconvenient and/or confusing. The US did mint a 20 cent piece for a few years, but it was unpopular because it was easily confused with a quarter: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twenty-cent_piece_(United_States_coin) The same was true of the short-lived Susan B. Anthony dollar coin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dollar_coin_(United_States)#Susan_B._Anthony_dollar_(1979%E2%80%931981;_1999) which I suspect (along with the inconvenience of having two $1 coins of very different sizes) contributed to the current unpopularity of the dollar coin. (Gold coins are obviously a special case, thanks to FDR &c.)

I'd guess that the use of cash registers also played a part, as they can easily fit only so many pockets for coins. Perhaps that also caused the virtual abandonment of the $2 bill, and is contributing to the decline I've seen in the use of the $10 bill. (My grocery store only gives out $5 bills in change, and any $10s you give them are tucked underneath the tray.)

Old U.S. Quarters Value Guide

Our price guide currently just has information about the 50 state quarters, United States Territories, and America the Beautiful coin programs. However, we will be updating the guide to include pictures, prices, history, and information about all the United States quarters minted between 1796 and today. So please check back frequently to learn more about your coin. In the meantime, please feel free to contact one of our coin experts to learn more about any of the older quarters and what they are worth in today’s market.

50 State Quarters (1999-2008)

America the Beautiful Quarters (2010-2021)

What to Know Before You Sell

Contact us with an image of your coin or collection, and we will tell you the value!

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United States Currency Errors

Double Denomination
A double denomination note has differing face and back values, for example a $5 face with a $10 back. Double denomination errors are exceedingly rare and valuable. The number in existence is very low. If you find one on eBay or for sale from a source otherwise not confirmed to be knowledgeable, it is likely that the note is not genuine.

Faulty Alignment (aka Miscut)
Faulty alignment errors are characterized by once side of a note being properly centered, while the other is shifted to some degree. Shifting may be only minor or may be dramatic. These errors are relatively common and widely collected.

The above example, graded PCGS 30PPQ (Very Fine) sold for $50

Insufficient Inking
Insufficient inking errors result from poorly or inadequately filled printing plates. As a result, the note displays an image that is faint or not fully complete. Like other currency errors, insufficient inking may be only minor, or may affect large parts of the note. Most errors of this type have insufficient inking of the 1st or 2nd printing.

This Series 1963B $1 PCGS graded 64PPQ sold for $871

Inverted Back
Inverted back errors might also be called notes with upside-down backs. This type of error is caused by a sheet being fed incorrectly (rotated 180 degrees) into the printing press for printing of the face (backs are printed first). Inverted back errors are not very common and command relatively high premiums.

Blank Back or Blank Reverse
A blank back error note is one that has printing on one side, but no printing on the other. These errors are often caused by two sheets being fed into a printing press at the same time.

This complete blank back error was graded 66PPQ by PCGS and sold for $500

Double or Multiple Impressions
Multiple impression errors usually display an image that appears &ldquoblurry&rdquo or &ldquofuzzy&rdquo, and may occur when a sheet is mistakenly re-fed through the press after receiving printing, or a sheet staying in place after being printed and receiving a second impression of the same design.

Obstructed Printings
Obstructed printing errors occur when a piece of material (usually a stray piece of paper, tape, wrapping, etc) comes between the printing plate and the uncut sheet. The result is a portion of a note with blank area. Obstructed printings are popular with error collectors, with value increasing dramatically when the item causing the obstruction is retained with the error note.

This 1977 $20 obstruction error was graded 58 EPQ (Choice Almost Uncirculated) by PMG

Offset Printing or Offset Transfer
Offset printed notes occur when an inked plate makes contact with the bed, often the cause of no sheet being fed to the press to accept the intended ink. As a result, when the next sheet passes through the press, the area impressed onto the impression cylinder is then pressed onto the opposite side of the note. Like others, this type of error can range from minor to a complete offset, with the latter being more desirable to collectors. While a rational theory, note that the errors described or pictured here are not caused by wet sheet transfer, or ink transferring from still-wet sheets to other sheets.

The Series 1974 offset transfer above sold for $140

Reverse Overprints (3rd Print on back)
Back overprint errors are the result of an uncut sheet being fed into a press with the obverse of the note facing the overprinting press. The information printed by the overprinting press include Treasury and Federal Reserve District seals, district numbers and serial numbers. Such a note will be missing these elements from the front, and instead have each displayed on the back.

This Series 1981 overprint error was graded PCGS 63PPQ and sold for $355

Inverted Overprint (3rd Print)
When a sheet is fed upside down relative to the existing face print, the result is the Treasury Seal, District Seal, District Number and serial numbers being printed upside down. Inverted 3rd print errors are not especially rare.

This Series 1974 $1 with inverted overprint graded 25PPQ by PCGS and sold for $202

Misaligned Overprints (Shifted 3rd Print)
When overprints (3rd printing) occur when the serial numbers and seals are out of position, vertically or horizontally, and are so far from their appropriate position that they cover unintended portions of the note. For example, a District seal might be so far misaligned that it covers the portrait on the face of the note. Again, errors range from minor, to major, with major errors being more desirable to collectors.

This Series 1974 shifted overprint example sold for $130

Missing Overprint (3rd Print)
A note with a missing overprint is easily recognizable because the bill lacks serial numbers and seals.

This Series 1995 missing overprint note sold for $325

Missing 2nd Printing
Similar to Missing Overprints, a note with a missing 2nd print is recognizable because the note is missing its face printing. Therefore no subject or denomination is displayed on the note.

The above $10 graded PCGS 66PPQ and sold for $1000

Mismatched Serial Numbers
On regular notes, both serial numbers on the front of the note are the same. Mismatched serial errors are characterized by numbers (or alpha characters) not matching on the same note. There are several different causes for this type of error. Notes with more than one digit mismatched are more valuable than those with a single mismatched number. Additionally, notes with mismatched characters are more scarce than notes with mismatched numbers.

This mismatched serial Series 1969D $1 graded 55PPQ by PCGS sold for $412

Stuck Digits
When the serial number digits freeze in place or get otherwise stuck during the printing process, the result is a stuck digit or partially turned digit.

Cutting Errors
After printing is complete, the uncut sheets of notes are sent to be cut into single notes. Like the previous printing process many errors can occur during the process of printing, ranging from minor to quite dramatic.

Gutter Fold or Blank Crease
Gutter folds are the result of the uncut sheets being sent through the press with a wrinkle or wrinkles in the paper. A gutter fold error note may have one wrinkle or multiple wrinkles. While collectible, these errors are relatively common.

This 1950A $10 was graded PCGS 35 (VF) and sold for $88

Printed Fold
A printed fold occurs when an uncut sheet folds over and remains this way during the printing process. As such, these type of errors range widely depending on the size and nature of the fold.

This printed fold error was graded 63PPQ by PCGS and sold for $193

Ink Smears
As the name implies, an ink smear error occurs when smears of ink are passed from the press onto a note. Ink smears are not hard to duplicate or fake, so be wary when purchasing.

This ink smear example graded 35PPQ (VF) by PCGS and sold for $45

Sacagawea Dollar Coins

The public was ecstatic when, in 2000, the U.S. Mint first released the Sacagawea dollar coin (aka the “golden dollar”).

Bearing an image of the Shoshone Native American Sacagawea, the Sacagawea dollar coin was supposed to fix all the problems that were left to fester with the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin.

Though the same diameter and weight as the Susan B. Anthony dollar, the Sacagawea dollar is different in other ways:

  • A golden color (it’s not really gold, by the way — it has a copper core with an outer coating of manganese brass.)
  • Smooth edges (unlike the quarter)
  • A distinctive rim (which actually feels different in one’s hand than a quarter does, and helps the blind to distinguish the Sacagawea dollar coin from a quarter)

How Will Stores Handle Transactions Without Pennies?

We are moving toward a cashless society and most transactions are handled electronically with credit cards, ATM cards, peer to peer purchasing systems such as Venmo or Zelle, or even with an old-fashioned check. The emergence of Bitcoin, Etherium, and other cryptocurrencies has also been cited as a growing reason for the decline of the penny. So eliminating the penny won’t actually affect most people.

For people who insist on paying cash, the US Mint recommends that stores round up or down to the nearest nickel.

Note: As a side effect, expect state and local sales taxes to increase to round up to the nearest nickel as well to make accounting easier for stores and cashiers.

State Quarter Errors

The new quarters with their novel designs have sparked keen interest in State quarter errors.

Double Struck

Clipped Flan

Broad struck

180° Rotation

25c on 5c flan

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Learn how these mistakes occur – See U.S. Mint Error Coins

What’s it Worth?
Copyright © 1997-2020 Robert S. Koppelman, Stan Klein & ROKO Design Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Worth 25 cents. It is made of cupronickel. It is larger than a nickel. It is about the same size as an Indian 50 paise coin. It has George Washington on the front and either a United States emblem or a design of one of the 50 states on the back.

It is a very useful coin, as many coin-operated machines, such as washers/dryers, candy machines, airport trolleys, and parking meters accept only quarters.

Not So Common Coins

Half Dollar

Worth 50 cents. It is the largest of U.S. coins. It is a silver-over-copper coin.
It has John F. Kennedy on the front and the Presidential Coat of Arms on the back.

Golden Dollar

It is worth $1. It is made of a manganese-brass alloy.
It features native American heroine Sacagawea on the front and a bald eagle on the back.

How Much Does a Penny Weigh?

The United States Mint currently manufactures one-cent coins that consist of a core of 99.2 percent zinc and 0.8 percent copper plated with less than 0.003 inches of pure copper. It is 19.05 millimeters in diameter and weighs 2.5 grams with a tolerance of ± 0.1 grams.

Pennies dated from 1864 until 1982 were made with 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc. These coins weighed 3.11 grams with a tolerance of ± 0.13 grams. In 1982, the mint produced half of the pennies with the solid copper composition and half of the pennies with the copper-plated zinc composition.

In 1943, Congress dictated that the United States Mint changed the composition of the penny to a core of pure steel plated with zinc. This change in composition was intended to save copper for the manufacturing of munitions to be used in World War II. These steel pennies weigh 2.689 grams with a tolerance of ± 0.13 grams. These steel cents quickly started to rust and deteriorated. In 1944, Congress reversed its decision, and the composition returned to the copper and zinc alloy.

25 Rare Quarters You’ll Want For Your Quarter Coin Collection

Used for all kinds of transactions ranging from parking and highway tolls to vending machines, there probably is no coin that’s more frequently used today than the quarter.

Quarters, like pennies, are highly popular collectible coins — and they’ve hit phenomenal heights since the introduction of the 50 States Quarters program back in 1999.

But rare quarters — those which are scarce and in demand among coin collectors — have always been held in high regard, even since before the advent of the 50 States Quarters program that drew millions of new coin collectors’ eyes to the denomination.

Rare Quarters

If you’re taking quarters as a denomination (and looking beyond simply the Washington quarters made since 1932), then there are several dates considered rare.

In fact, taking into consideration every design series of the quarter going back to the very first, made in 1796, there are easily 2 dozen dates that could be considered highly scarce or rare.

Let’s take a look at each of these rare quarters and see how scarce and valuable they are.

Oh, and you might want some deep pockets for some of these coins, because many will set you back far more than you probably paid for your first car!

Values & Mintages Of Rare Quarters

Though we’re going to list the mintages (the number of how many coins were made by date and mintmark), we’ve said it here often that you shouldn’t always look just at a mintage to determine how rare a coin is.

You might be surprised to learn how many millions of otherwise ‘common date’ coins have been melted down for their silver value.

So, take the mintage numbers below with a grain of salt. Between mass meltings, loss of coins due to time and circulation, and other factors, the fact that 500,000 coins of a certain date were made doesn’t mean 500,000 coins of that date still exist!

With that in mind, take a gander at what 25 of the rarest quarters are going for nowadays:

*All coin prices are for rare quarters in Good-4, unless otherwise stated

What Are the Denominations of U.S. Currency?

The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing produces paper currency in $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes. The U.S. Mint produces six coin denominations. A penny equals 1 cent, a nickel equals 5 cents, a dime equals 10 cents, a quarter equals 25 cents, and a half dollar equals 50 cents. The dollar coin has the same value as a $1 note.

The $2 note is rare piece of currency that was originally introduced in 1862. After a period of cancellation, it was rereleased in 1976 to commemorate the nation's bicentennial. The new version contained a new illustration representing the Founding Fathers signing the Declaration of Independence. The $2 note hasn't been redesigned since 2003, and its circulation remains limited.

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