Legendary Coins and Currency

Coins tell a story.

The exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Nation Museum of American History describes the interplay between coins as objects and the personal history of their use. The main section shows what money looked like in Colonial America and at pivotal times, including the Gold Rush, Great Depression and in the current era. The section called "The Power of Liberty," presents an array of coins from the United States and the world depicting Liberty, the feminine personification of freedom; coins with real and mythological women are also featured.

Numismatic Guaranty Company and Numismatic Conservation Services are proud presenting sponsors of "Stories on Money."

Take a behind the scenes look at this renowned Smithsonian exhibition through our online gallery.
Important Legendary Resouces All photos by Tom Mulvaney for the Smithsonian Institution. Copyright 2005, Smithsonian Institution.

1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar

The coining of a silver crown, as dollar-sized coins of the world are known to numismatists, was for centuries a distinguishing mark of national sovereignty.  View Coin Details

1849 Liberty Double Eagle

America’s largest circulating gold coin was the Double Eagle or $20 piece, born in the exciting years of the great California Gold Rush.  View Coin Details

1907 Ultra-High Relief Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle

Theodore Roosevelt was a U.S. president whose ardent pursuit of excellence encompassed the nation’s coinage.  View Coin Details

1913 Liberty Nickel

While its design is simple and straight-forward, this coin inspires many.  View Coin Details

1776 Continental Currency Dollar

The general lack of coined money in America, combined with the infant nation’s precarious financial situation, meant that most transactions were carried out with paper currency.  View Coin Details

1793 Chain Cent

The first regular coins struck by the federal government of the United States on its own machinery and within its own premises were the 36,103 Chain cents struck in the first twelve days of March of 1793.  View Coin Details

Proof 1838 Eagle

The Smithsonian houses the only comprehensive date and denomination run of early US proof gold coins from 1821 to 1857.  View Coin Details

1848 ‘Cal.’ Quarter Eagle

Very soon after the initial reports that gold had been found at Sutter’s Fort in January 1848, California’s military governor dispatched a party to investigate.  View Coin Details