1909-S VDB

In good condition this would be worth about $380 to $545

Coin Collecting
Merit Badge

Mr. R.
Return to: [ Scouting with Mr. R. ]

"If you can count your money, you don't have a billion dollars." 
                                                                                                                                     - J. Paul Getty 

Mr. R's Coin Collecting Passport© (20-page, 4"x5" pocket guide) will soon be available in PDF format to print out for non-profit use (requires free Adobe Acrobat© Reader).  Passports are copyrighted, but scouts and troops may use them free of charge if they create only one per scout.  NO scout may be charged! BSA councils must first contact Mr. R. before creating large quantities for scout camps, merit badge fairs, etc.

Understand how coins are made, and where the active U.S. Mint facilities are located. 
A Short History of the United States Mint, Mint Marks, and Designer's Initials
          The United States Mint has used just seven different Mint marks on its coinage: P, for the Philadelphia Mint; D, for pre-Civil War 19th century gold coins struck at the Dahlonega Mint in Georgia, and for 20th and 21st century coins struck at the Denver Mint; S, for coins struck at the San Francisco Mint; O, for coins struck at the New Orleans Mint; C, for coins struck at the Charlotte Mint in North Carolina; CC, for coins struck at the Carson City Mint in Nevada; and W, for coins struck at the West Point Mint (just on collector coins; none for circulation).
          Not all coins have Mint marks. No U.S. coins had Mint marks until the late 1830s (until then, only one Mint existed). The Philadelphia Mint did not use the P Mint mark until the 20th century (briefly from 1942 to 1945 on Jefferson 5-cent coins; the P was reintroduced on the 1979-P Anthony dollar, and on all circulating coins struck at Philadelphia since 1980 except for the Lincoln cent). During the mid-1960s and again in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Mint marks were dropped from some or all coins for various reasons.
          The designers of U.S. coins did not start signing their works until the mid-19th century, and even afterward, many coins were issued without any credit for their designers. The first signed coin was an 1836 silver dollar bearing the engraver's full last name, Gobrecht, although that recognition was removed after only a few trial pieces were produced. No other U.S. coins bear a full name.
          Those coins that do bear the artist's signatures may bear a single initial, as on the Indian Head 5-cent coin/Buffalo nickel and American Buffalo silver dollar, which have an F on the obverse for James Earle Fraser; several initials, as with the F.G. on the reverse of the Lincoln cent with Memorial reverse, designed by Frank Gasparro; or a monogram, such as that appearing on the obverse of the Kennedy half dollar, designed by Gilroy Roberts.


Explain these collecting terms:

a. Obverse
b. Reverse
c. Reeding
d. Clad
e. Type set
f. Date set
NOTE: If a coin is above five cents in value, it should have corrugated outer edges, referred to as reeding. Reeding on genuine coins is even and distinct. The counterfeit coin's reeding may be uneven, crooked, or missing altogether. 
United States Secret Service

The United States Mint

Explain the grading terms Uncirculated, Extremely Fine, Very Fine, Fine, Very Good, Good, and Poor. Show five different grade examples of the same coin type. Explain the term “proof” and why it is not a grade. Tell what encapsulated coins are.
  • Uncirculated
  • Extremely Fine
  • Very Fine
  • Fine
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Poor
It takes time to “take a shine” to proof coins... How do they get proof coins so shiny? Before the images are struck on the blanks, the blanks are highly polished. And not only the blanks, but the dies that stamp them are polished too! It’s easier to polish the background field on the die, where it’s raised, than on the finished coin...but it still takes extra time.


Know three different ways to store a collection, and describe the benefits, drawbacks, and expense of each method. Pick one to use when completing requirements.




Do the following:
a. Demonstrate to your counselor that you know how to use two U.S. or world coin reference catalogs. 
b. Read a numismatic magazine or newspaper and tell your counselor about what you learned. 

Describe the 1999-2008 50 State Quarters Program. Collect and show your counselor five different quarters you have acquired from circulation. 

Collect from circulation a set of currently circulating U.S. coins. Include one coin of each denomination (cent, nickel, dime, quarter, half-dollar, dollar). For each coin, locate the mint marks, if any, and the designer’s initials, if any. 
Although mint marks can be seen easily with the naked eye, designer's initials often require a magnifying glass to be seen.



Do the following:
a. Identify the people depicted on the following denominations of current U.S. paper money: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. 
b. Explain “legal tender.” 
c. Describe the role the Federal Reserve System plays in the distribution of currency. 



Do ONE of the following:
a. Collect and identify 50 foreign coins from at least 10 different countries. 
b. Collect and identify 20 bank notes from at least five different countries. 
c. Collect and identify 15 different tokens or medals. 
d. For each year since the year of your birth, collect a date set of a single type of coin. 

One of my old Danish 25- øre coins from when I lived in Denmark!


Do ONE of the following:
a. Tour a U.S. Mint facility, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing facility, a Federal Reserve bank, or a numismatic museum or exhibit, and describe what you learned to your counselor. 
b. With your parent’s permission, attend a coin show or coin club meeting, or view the Web site of the U.S. Mint or a coin dealer, and report what you learned. 
c. Give a talk about coin collecting to a group such as your troop, a Cub Scout pack, or your class at school. 
d. Do drawings of five Colonial-era U.S. coins. 

Washington Cent

BSA Advancement ID#: 35
Pamphlet Revision Date: 2008
Requirements last updated 2008


Return to [ Scouting with Mr. R. ]

Merit Badges: [ Astronomy ][ Atomic Energy ][ Basketry ]
[ Citizenship in the Community ][ Citizenship in the Nation ]
[ Citizenship in the World ][ Coin Collecting ][ Communications ][ Family Life ]
[ Environmental Science ][ Fish & Wildlife Management ][ Fishing ]
[ Fly Fishing ][ Forestry ][ Geology ][ Mammal Study ][ Nature ]
[ Oceanography ][ Personal Fitness ][ Personal Management ]
[ Pulp & Paper ][ Soil & Water Conservation ][ Textile ][ Weather ]

Animated graphics by Animation Factory

Webpage updated November 2008
Webmaster, Mr. R.


George Washington
Thomas Jefferson
Abraham Lincoln
Alexander Hamilton
Andrew Jackson
U.S. Grant
Benjamin Franklin
William McKinley
Grover Cleveland
James Madison
Salmon P. Chase
Woodrow Wilson