Collector Basics: Philadelphia Mint is main U.S. Mint

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of Coin World Collector Basics posts on facilities under the U.S. Mint’s jurisdiction.

The Philadelphia Mint is the original federal Mint, authorized by Congress through the Coinage Act of April 2, 1792. Since then, the Philadelphia Mint has existed at four different locations.

Until the 1830s, the Philadelphia Mint was the nation’s sole federal Mint. Starting in the mid-1830s, Branch Mints were opened in other cities, with the Philadelphia Mint being the “main” or “mother” Mint and site of the Mint director’s offices.

The Branch Mint era ended with the Mint Act of 1873; Mint headquarters was moved to Washington, D.C., and the Philadelphia Mint and the former Branch Mints were placed on equal footing, though for most of its history, the Philadelphia Mint was the sole facility with the capability of making the hubs and dies for striking coins.

The first U.S. Mint at Philadelphia was built on Seventh Street in 1792. It was there in the facility’s several buildings that many of the nation's first patterns and coins were struck, including 1792 silver half dismes, 1792 Birch cents and 1792 Silver Center cents; 1793 Flowing Hair, Chain and 1793 Flowing Hair, Wreath cents; and 1794 Flowing Hair dollars.

Since 1792, the Philadelphia Mint has been the sole home to the U.S. Mint’s engraving staff of sculptor-engravers and medallic sculptors. Today, the Philadelphia facility, at Fifth and Arch streets, also houses all of the technology and design development staff and produces most of the tooling for the production of coins.


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