US Coins

Follow the history of the U.S. Mint

The front of a souvenir envelope for the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Mint, autographed by some of those who attended the event on April 2, 1992.

Image courtesy of Q. David Bowers.

The Joys of Collecting column from the Jan. 23, 2017, issue of Coin World:

Since becoming the numismatic director of Whitman Publishing LLC roughly 14 years ago, I have turned out a long string of titles, with help from many other writers and researchers. The latest in print, A Guide Book of the U.S. Mint, is a recent release. 

Creating many of these books has involved extensive travel. For this one, under the aegis of Tom Jurkowsky of the Mint, I and helpers went behind the scenes in every production facility — Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco, and West Point — to document the procedures. 

On April 2, 1992, on the 200th anniversary of the Mint Act of 1792, at the invitation of the Treasury Department I gave the keynote speech at the event. A number of numismatic people attended, and I had some of them sign both sides of a souvenir envelope, the front of which is shown.

Then there was the Mint that almost was, but never opened. In the mid-1860s the Treasury Department erected a substantial building in The Dalles, an Oregon town on the south bank of the Columbia River. The idea was to coin precious metals then being found in quantity in the Pacific Northwest. Production slowed, and the idea was scrapped. 

The Mint building was then sold. Since then it has had various private uses and is still standing.

In 1862 the government purchased the private bank and mint of Clark, Gruber & Co. in Denver and renamed it the Denver Mint, which was in use for years thereafter — but only as an assay office and repository. So, that federal Mint, while in full operation, uniquely never turned out any coins. Years later, in 1906, a new Denver Mint opened, a facility that, today enlarged, produces many coins. A new Visitors’ Center will be set up, I was told, to replace the one in use for many years.

My new book also covers historical mints other than federal facilities — including the mysterious Machin’s Mills set up in the 1780s on the shore of Orange Pond in Newburgh, N.Y.; Reuben Harmon Jr.’s little mint on Millbrook in Pawlet, Vt.; and the extensive facility of Moffat & Co. in San Francisco. The last was purchased by the Treasury Department in 1853, enlarged, and reopened as the San Francisco Mint in March 1854.

If you buy or borrow this book, I think you’ll enjoy it.

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