Paper Money

Popular Science contribute makes own postapocalyptic currency

Chris Hackett, Popular Science's "intrepid DIY ?columnist," regularly tackles "do-it-yourself" projects both common and unusual. In the November issue of the magazine, he addressed striking your own coinage in "Behold! Copper Coins I Minted For Postapocalyptic Currency."

Hackett wrote that in a postapocalyptic world, "without a stable government, paper bills will be little more than fire starters, and coins chips of cheap metal," adding, "Bartering is inconvenient. ... A more efficient solution would be to mint a new currency."

While some doomsday preppers might hoard gold and silver for a future disaster, he selected for his "Hackettcoin" the metallic composition copper, "which can be reused to make electrical parts, giving them real-world value."

His coining press would be familiar to anyone who has studied the early days of the U.S. Mint. In concept, it is very similar to the presses used at the first Philadelphia Mint when it was established in 1792, though the configuration of his press differs from that used by the coiners at the original federal Mint.

While his press uses gravity alone to slam a 144-pound weight resting above the hammer die down onto his copper planchets, the press operators at the first Philadelphia Mint operated a screw press. It featured a large upright screw, with a heavy lever fixed to the top. Two press operators would grab a rope attached to either end of the lever and in tandem, pull on the ropes to activate the press. The force of operating the screw, assisted by gravity, drove the hammer die down on the planchet resting on top of the anvil die, thus forming the design elements on the newly minted coin.

Hackett's article, including details on how he created his dies, plus a video, can be found at the Popular Science website.

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