Most of the last generation or two before us that did research on the first United States Mint, including the die making and production processes related to the screw press technology, and searching through the tens of thousands of Mint-related documents in the National Archives, are no longer with us. Some of these researchers may have communicated with each other face to face, via the U.S. mail or by telephone, assuming they knew that there was someone else out there doing similar research. Many did their research in private. Some still do. Some did not share their research. Some still don’t.
Many numismatists and authors, including M.H. Bolender, Walter Breen, A.W. Browning and Robert Hilt II did not have access to personal computers, digital imaging and the Internet, as these technologies did not exist. Today, we have digital; emails, Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, JPG and PDF files, and more. The National Archives has digitized a lot of materials, and they allow people to use digital cameras to take pictures of documents in the archives.
Although some people that do research may know of some others that are also doing research, they are not aware of all that are doing research. Many times, people have performed research that was never done before. Many times, people have performed research that was already done in the past. Currently, some people are doing research that is also being done by others.
Due to the limitations of the technologies available in the past, the raw data and analyzed information was not stored in a central repository, but with the people that did the research. Unless someone’s research was given to someone else, all the data and information was lost when that person changed focus, retired, moved on or died. That has hopefully changed.
In August 2012, I started the website USMintResearch.com. The website will serve as a message board and data repository for anything U.S. Mint related. My goals are for participants to post documents, research, images, pictures, in-progress articles and theories, and engage in discussions.
The website is presently limited to those doing research on the first and second United States Mints from 1792 to 1839; Mint personnel, policies, procedures and operations; the National Archives and Records Administration; the Smithsonian Institution; U.S. coins prior to 1840; and Mint medals.
Why 1792 to 1839? This time period covers all U.S. coins struck after the Coinage Act of April 2, 1792, and prior to the Seated Liberty series. Eventually, I expect the website will include the other Mints and additional series of U.S. coins. If successful, the website will facilitate those in the future to continue where we left off, so they will not have to start from the beginning.
The website requires a secure login to gain access.
If anyone is interested in participating, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Finkelstein is a researcher of early U.S. coins and founder of the new website for students of the First and Second Philadelphia Mints.