Learn About the Four Major U.S. Mints
On April 2, 1792, the United States Congress passed the Coinage Act, recognizing it was imperative for the young country to develop a legitimate and trusted currency system. Soon after, the first public building erected by the American government was constructed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The U.S. Mint represents the most traditional of American values and takes pride in their coins and their ability to hold value and connect generations of Americans. The U.S. Mint is the only producer of legal-tender coins in the country, but they also produce numismatic products such as proof sets and uncirculated coins. Today, the mint operates in six different locations stretching across the nation with its headquarters in Washington D.C. So just where are coins minted in the U.S.?
The Philadelphia Mint was the first U.S. Mint building, as Philadelphia was the nation’s capital in 1792. David Rittenhouse was appointed as the first director. The first building (above, left) was adorned with “Ye Olde Mint” and was used from 1792-1833. As the United States economy has grown, so has coin demand, and also the size of the Philadelphia Mint. Since 1969, the building designed by local designer Vincent G. Kling (above, right) has served as the mint’s fourth home. Minting technologies have improved drastically as the Philadelphia Mint is now able to produce one million coins in about 30 minutes. This feat took three years when the mint first opened for production. Uncirculated coin sets from the Philadelphia Mint are marked with a “P”.
San Francisco Mint
By 1852, the California Gold Rush was four years underway. The increase in coin demand was beginning to put a strain on the system, as the Gold had to be transported across the country to Philadelphia. Congressional approval for a California-based U.S. Mint operation made perfect sense. The mint’s early production was strong and was moved to a sturdy stone facility in 1874 (above). This second U.S. Mint facility ran according to plan until the devastating San Francisco earthquake and resulting fires of 1906. The mint withstood the quake fairly well and was the only operable treasury system in the region directly after. The mint no longer makes circulating coins today. Instead, they serve as the sole mint of regular and proof Silver coin sets.
The city of Denver, Colorado, was founded after the discovery of Gold in 1858 during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush. The brokerage firm Clark, Gruber & Co., based in Leavenworth, Kansas, opened a private mint in Denver using the newly mined Gold to produce Gold coins, taking advantage of the Gold Rush. Their production and profits were successful and their operating equipment was purchased by the government in 1863. They opened as an assay service center later that year. The assay is defined as the “testing of a metal or ore to determine its ingredients and quality.” The building was not converted into a full-scale minting operation until 1904. Today, the Denver Mint produces all types of circulated coins and is able to make more than 50 million coins in one day. You can identify their coins by the “D” mintmark engraved on their face.
West Point Mint
Located in New York, near the most prestigious military academy in the nation, the West Point Mint is also the newest mint in the U.S. Mint network, becoming an official U.S. Mint facility in 1988. The mint was constructed in 1937 and came to be known as the “Fort Knox of Silver” due to its early primary function as a Silver bullion depository. Today, most American Eagle bullion coins are minted here, though the San Francisco Mint subsidizes Silver Eagle mintages as well. Since 2006, the West Point Mint also produced the popular Gold Buffalo bullion coins.
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