Dates on US Coins?

Why does the US Mint put dates on coins? I know they keep track of how many coins they make each year, but I can’t see any purpose once the coins go out into circulation. Who really cares that the quarter they just spent was made in 1995?

Or is it just a fun fact that we can all use as conversation starters, “You know junior, this penny was made when your daddy was dating your mother”. Or is it for mint employees to marvel over when they recall old, damaged
coins, “Hey Verne - this nickel is from 1963. It’s had a hard life, let’s retire it, and melt it down. Heh.”

Any light you could shed on this mystery would be much appreciated


  1. It’s always been that way (always a good answer)

  2. The government could decide to remove all coins older than a certain year if it wanted to.

Seems it’s just a policy decision, and sometimes the tradition gets bent a little. From one of the FAQs at the U.S. Mint, Can you explain the policy about the dates that are stamped on United States coins?:

The speculation concerned the rising cost of silver, then still used in the production of coins. The FAQ goes on to talk about special dating for bicentennial coins and the like.

BobT got it right! Because it’s always been done that way.

But, not always .

Modern dating of coins with complete dates of mintage started in Europe in 1234 AD or thereabouts. Prior to that, you didn’t have dates.

As to why it started at that time, I have a source I can call, but he won’t be back in town until mid-month. I will try to get an answer at that point.