U.S. Mint Produces 3.21 Billion Coins for Circulation in First Quarter

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The U.S. Mint struck 1,134,840,000 coins for circulation in the first quarter
The U.S. Mint struck 1,134,840,000 coins for circulation in the first quarter

The United States Mint struck more than 3.21 billion coins for circulation during the first quarter of 2021, a tad less than the amount made in the same period last year, registering the slowest first quarterly pace since 2013.

As for March, the U.S. Mint produced over 1.1 billion coins, representing 2.5% decline from February but a 26.3% increase from March 2020.

Here’s how the month compares against others in the past year:

March 2020 to March 2021 Circulating Coin Production

Month Mintages Rank
March 2021 1,134.84 M 8
February 2021 1,163.40 M 7
January 2021 919.52 M 9
December 2020 903.50 M 11
November 2020 1,165.10 M 6
October 2020 1,404.69 M 5
September 2020 1,422.59 M 4
August 2020 1,657.06 M 2
July 2020 1,697.74 M 1
June 2020 1,596.48 M 3
May 2020 904.12 M 10
April 2020 801.84 M 13
March 2020 898.86 M 12

 

The Federal Reserve orders more 1-cent coins than any other denomination even as data shows it costs the U.S. Mint 1.76 cents to make and distribute each one. The Mint made 608.8 million Lincoln cents last month, representing 53.6% of the circulating-quality coins produced in March.

Month-Over-Month

In month-over month comparisons for coins used daily by Americans, production totals in March saw:

  • 14.3% more Lincoln cents,
  • 16.8% fewer Jefferson nickels,
  • 28.8% fewer Roosevelt dimes, and
  • 3.3% more America the Beautiful quarter dollars.

Native American $1 coins and Kennedy half-dollars are no longer ordered by Federal Reserve Banks but they are still made in circulating quality for coin collectors. Typically in January, the U.S. Mint strikes both coins to the expected amounts needed for the entire year.

That wasn’t the case for 2021 halves. Mint data shows none were produced until February, and then only 1.6 million from Denver. The Philadelphia total showed up in March at 1.9 million. Combined, 2021 production of halves stands at 3.5 million. Last year’s half-dollar ended with 3.4 million from Denver and 2.3 million from Philadelphia for a combined 5.7 million.

Published mintages of 2021 Native American dollars have remained unchanged since January with equal splits of 1.26 million from Denver and 1.26 million from Philadelphia for a combined 2.52 million coins. In contrast, the 2020 dollar saw 1.26 million for Denver and 1.4 million for Philadelphia for 2.66 million coins.

The U.S. Mint started selling rolls and bags of 2021 Native American dollars on Feb. 16. Rolls and bags of 2021 Kennedy half dollars are scheduled for release on May 11.

Here’s a summary of all circulating-quality coins produced last month:

US Mint Circulating Coin Production in March 2021

Denomination Denver Philadelphia Total
Lincoln Cents 335,200,000 273,600,000 608,800,000
Jefferson Nickels 75,600,000 61,440,000 137,040,000
Roosevelt Dimes 114,500,000 91,000,000 205,500,000
Quarters 101,800,000 79,800,000 181,600,000
Kennedy Half Dollars 0 1,900,000 1,900,000
Native American $1s 0 0 0
Total 627,100,000 507,740,000 1,134,840,000

 

U.S. Mint plants in Denver and Philadelphia manufacture all of America’s coins for commerce. Last month, the Denver Mint made 627.1 million coins and the Philadelphia Mint made 507.74 million coins for the combined 1,134,840,000 coins.

First Quarter 2021

In first quarter 2021, the Denver Mint struck 1,847,660,000 coins and the Philadelphia Mint made 1,370,100 coins. They combine for a quarterly total of 3,217,760,000 coins, which is 0.1% less than the 3,221,240,000 coins minted in the first quarter of last year.

This next table lists 2021 coin production totals by denomination and by U.S. Mint facility:

YTD 2021 Circulating Coin Production by Denomination

1 ¢ 5 ¢ 10 ¢ 25 ¢ 50 ¢ N.A. $1 Total:
Denver 884.4M 236.2M 415M 309.2M 1.6M 1.26M 1847.66M
Philadelphia 640.4M 216.74M 349M 160.8M 1.9M 1.26M 1370.1M
Total 1524.8M 452.94M 764M 470M 3.5M 2.52M 3217.76M

 

If the current production pace stretched through to December, the annual mintage for 2021 would end near 12.9 billion coins. The U.S. Mint made over 14.77 billion coins for circulation in 2020.

Mintages by Unique Design

In addition to the Native American dollar, the U.S. Mint released (on Feb. 8) another coin with a one-year-only design — the 2021 Tuskegee Airmen quarter for Alabama. Its mintage remained unchanged in March.

This last table offers a breakdown of this year’s mintages that have been reported by coin design:

2021 Circulating Coin Production by Design

Denver Philadelphia Total
Lincoln Cent 884,400,000 640,400,000 1,524,800,000
Jefferson Nickel 236,200,000 216,740,000 452,940,000
Roosevelt Dime 415,000,000 349,000,000 764,000,000
Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site Quarter (Alabama) 304,000,000 160,400,000 464,400,000
George Washington Crossing the Delaware Quarter 0 0 0
Kennedy Half-Dollar 1,600,000 1,900,000 3,500,000
Native American $1 Coin 1,260,000 1,260,000 2,520,000
Total 1,842,460,000 1,369,700,000 3,212,160,000

 

There are 5.6 million in quarters that the U.S. Mint has yet to officially assign to a design. These are likely 2021 George Washington Crossing the Delaware quarters. Hundreds of millions more of them will be made until the first American Women quarters are issued in 2022.

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Kaiser Wilhelm

In the first three months of this year the Mint spent $26,836,480.00 to make $15,248,000.00 worth of Lincoln cents. Close enough for government work, as they say.

Richard Arguile

In 2022 Congress orders the US Mint to replace the one cent coin with an identical two cent coin – exact same size and weight – just change “one cent” to “two cents”. Coin is issued to banks at 50 to $1.00. Coin can be used to give change either as one cent or two cents. In 2024 US Mint begins removing 2021 and earlier one cent coins from circulation paying $1.50 for every one hundred coins returned. After January 1 2026 all one cent coins left in circulation are considered worth two cents.

Kaiser Wilhelm

In all seriousness, I do admire the intellectual footwork behind your proposition for dealing with the overpriced cent situation. That being said (wouldn’t you know it, there’s almost always a codicil), I foresee a couple of possible problems with that remedy. First, there’s no guarantee that the base metals used for coin production wouldn’t experience inflation-driven price increases down the line, in which case the two cent piece would also end up costing the Mint more than its face value to make. Furthermore, a pointless coin is a pointless coin, whether its denomination is one or two or even three… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Kaiser Wilhelm
c_q

i don’t see the point of making 1-cent coins – there are untold billions of them already made, there should be more than enough to go around. but most of them wind up in cups and drawers and couches and never get put back into circulation. the mint could save a ton of money by just not making any, or at least make a lot less each year (maybe just for collectors). but there are too many interests pushing to have them made (mining companies, employees and the treasury union, and nostalgic people).

Kaiser Wilhelm

You’re absolutely right. We all know that the ordained path of our current day grossly overpriced cents is from the Mint directly to the storage jar, so what exactly is the point of making them? In order to satisfy huge mining and processing interests courtesy of their Senators and Congressmen, of course. This is no different from those many occasions when politicians continue to push for the continued production of expensive but obsolete military hardware the Pentagon itself can no longer use and therefore doesn’t want. Government expenditures aren’t driven by practical and otherwise genuine public needs but rather by… Read more »

Fooled.jpg
Last edited 1 month ago by Kaiser Wilhelm
Clockwork Squirrel

Pretty much the same thing can be said about continued printing of $1 notes. Crane has had a “forever” monopoly on the special paper used and fights tooth and nail to defend their interests. IIRC some years back their predecessor (also named Crane!) successfully lobbied Congress to forbid both discontinuing the dollar bill _and_ any changes to its design. It would seem to me that a win-win would be for the BEP to discontinue the dollar bill in favor of a combination of a modernized $2 note augmented by all those coins now sitting in vaults. No one would need… Read more »

Kaiser Wilhelm

What Crane Currency represents is being the equivalent of the only gold and/or silver mine in the United States, as it is the BEP’s only source of their counterfeit-protected paper. It also helps Crane Currency’s (of Boston) cause that the Bay State fields a sturdy contingent of Senators and Congresspersons, one willing to stand up for that company if necessary. Meanwhile, the metal mining interests don’t care that the coins their raw materials are used for end up in government vaults instead of in the public’s pockets, as by then those enterprises have already been paid. Besides, many people are… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Kaiser Wilhelm
chuck

Your point about not making them is spot on. But, no President or their Administration would want to admit $.01 is not what it was before they got power and of course cent collectors and as you also noted others would not be happy either. Indeed, all about Politics and not about common sense.

Kaiser Wilhelm

The Mint could easily continue to make one cent coins for collectors only, similar to the way they currently do with the fifty cent and dollar denomination coins. As for putting an end to the circulating cent, the ongoing reluctance of the powers that be to do so may be much more a consequence of their woefully narrow vision than any sort of true read of what matters to the great majority of the American public at large. After all, what percentage of the population actually carries cents on their person to make purchases with? I’m willing to bet that… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Kaiser Wilhelm
Mark D.

I hate to be the ant at everyone’s picnic, but I find it truly odd that numismatists advocate eliminating coins. Just my 2¢. Ahem. In truth, I’m largely ambivalent on this front. Simply couldn’t pass up a chance for cold-blooded, pre-meditated pun-icide (pun aside). Cue Gaffaw & order SFX.

Kaiser Wilhelm

Perhaps it’s an admittedly feeble and likely futile reach at enlightened self-interest. The evolving scenario would suggest that less waste in producing circulating coinage might eventually translate into more reasonable prices being asked for items of numismatic value. One can always hope and day dream or possibly even hallucinate, but that’s a story for another time.

Last edited 1 month ago by Kaiser Wilhelm
Kaiser Wilhelm

Mark, it’s also occurred to me that eliminating cent production might free up enough of the Mint’s press time to make those collector coins it has occasionally been forced to forgo due to overly tight scheduling.

Last edited 1 month ago by Kaiser Wilhelm
Clyde James

Regardless of who is president or in the majority in Congress, the minting of 1 cent coins AND five cent coins makes absolutely NO SENSE…. Neither does the printing of 1 dollar and 2 dollar bills. Other modern wealthy countries have long since done the logical thing and discontinued the minting of such worthless coins, and printing of bills with such a low buying power as the 1 dollar bill.

Last edited 6 days ago by Clyde James