Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Mint (coin)

A mint is a facility which manufactures coins for currency.

It should come as little surprise that the history of mints correlates very closely with the history of coins. One difference is that the history of the mint is normally related in a fashion that more closely ties to the political situation of the day. For example, when discussing the history of the New Orleans Mint, the usage of that mint by confederate forces beginning in 1861 comes up quickly. The origins of the Philadelphia Mint which began operations in 1792 and first produced circulating coinage in 1793 are most often related within the political context of the time.

Another topic that is often discussed when talking about mints is the manufacturing history of the process of making coins. In the beginning, hammered coinage or cast coinage were the only choices. In more modern mints, coin dies are manufactured in large numbers and planchets are made into coins by the billions.

There have been hundreds if not thousands of mints in the history of world coinage. Each city-state in ancient Greece had it's own mint. Roman mints were spread far and wide across the empire, and used extensively for propaganda purposes. One way people knew there was a new emperor was when he minted coins with his (or her) portrait on it. Many of the emperors that ruled only for a very short time made sure that they got their portrait on some coins. Quietus, for example, ruled only part of the empire from 260-261 AD, yet he issued several coins bearing his image.

The history of the current United States Mint began with the constitution. Alexander Hamilton was a key figure in the history of the early mint, and is credited with supporting the decimal system of coinage Robert Morris proposed that we use today. Prior to this, a system of eigths was most common, as in pieces of eight. On April 2, 1792, Congress passed The Coinage Act providing for the construction of the Philadelphia mint and providing the means to actually mint coins for the new republic.

David Rittenhouse was a scientist and the first Director of the Mint. One of the more interesting stories of the early mint is that Martha Washington had some of the family silverware minted into half dimes by the fledgling mint. The history surrounding the outbreak of yellow fever during the summer and autumn of 1793, the near desertion of Philadelphia, and the delays this caused in the minting of some of the first coins is also an interesting tome. David Rittenhouse retired in 1795 and died of cholera on June 26, 1796.

Henry Voight was the first Superintendent and Chief Coiner, he is credited with some of the very first coin designs.

Another important position at the mint is that of chief engraver. The chief engraver these include such men as Frank Gasparro, William Barber, Charles E. Barber, James B. Longacre, Christians Gobrecht and Anthony C. Paquet among others. George T. Morgan was also an engraver at the mint responsible for designing an important silver dollar.

Notable mints

See also United States Department of the Treasury, Master of the Mint, Mint-made errors

External links