Tag Archive: mint

The Philadelphia US Coin Mint

Philadelphia US Coin Mint

The Philadelphia mint was the first official mint in the United States of America. It was also where the first US coin was ever struck as well. The creation of the mint in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was largely due to a need to create a national identity and to create a form of commerce in the newly formed country. In fact, the founding fathers of the US thought this was one of the higher priorities after the Constitution was ratified.

On April 2, 1972, the Coinage Act was made into the law and established the US Mint. Many people wonder why they chose Philadelphia of all places to build the first mint. The reason this city was chosen was because it was the national capital during that time period. They also decided what composition the coins would be, how much they would weight and what denominations would be created. They also agreed that the coins would have to have a “liberty” type theme or “an impression emblematic of liberty”.

“Ye Olde Mint” – First US Coin Mint in Philadelphia

The Coinage Act was created April 2nd of 1792 and it was a few months before the mint was built. A scientist by the name of David Rittenhouse was appointed by President George Washington to become the very first Director of the Mint. Rittenhouse bought two lots for $4,266.67 on July 18th of that same year. The location was at Seventh Street and 631 Filbert Street where an old abandoned whiskey distillery was located. Work began the next day when they immediately started to demolish the abandoned building.

Construction of the foundation started on July 31st and the building itself was completed by September 7th of that same year. All they had to do then was start installing equipment and a smelting furnace. In fact, the smelt house became the first public building built by the US government, which was three stories tall and was constructed with brick. During that time, it was one of the most prominent and tallest buildings in the city. They painted the words “Ye Olde Mint” and that was the first mint in the United States.

Original "Ye Olde Mint" PhiladelphiaThere was a lot of gold and silver that needed to be used to mint coins so they stored it in the basement of the mint in vaults. The coins were struck and minted on the first floor where the press was. They also weighted the coins here as well. The second floor of the Philadelphia mint housed the official offices and the third floor housed the assay office. They also had horses in the basement of a mill house that powered the rolling mill on the first floor.

Unfortunately, the smelt house and mill were destroyed by a fire in 1816. They had to do smelting in other locations because the smelt house since there was never a repair of the smelt house. They did build a brick building in place of the mill but this time the put a steam engine in place to power the machines instead of the horses. The first mint successfully minted until 1833 until they moved to a second mint located in Philadelphia. The original mint and land was sold off to Frank Steward who wanted to preserve the buildings and its history. Unfortunately, no one helped out and the buildings were destroyed around 1910 with nothing remaining except a small plaque.

The Second Mint of Philadelphia

Work on the second mint started on July 4th of 1829 when the cornerstone was laid down at a location where Chestnut and Juniper intersected. The nickname was “Grecian Temple” because the building was built with white marble and had columns that looked like the old Greek style. William Strickland designed the building and it measured 150 feet by 204 feet, which was much larger than the original. The second mint actually opened in 1833 and used some of the salvaged equipment from the first mint. The equipment was outdated so a man named Franklin Peale was sent out with a goal to learn about advanced minting techniques and machines in Europe. He then returned and improved the production of the mint ever since.

Second Philadelphia MintThe second mint existed through many great events in American history including the Civil War and the expansion of the nation from both coasts and a population growth from 13 million to 76 million. By the turn of the century, the demand for coinage became too great for the mint in Philadelphia, so they had to start thinking about an expansion. So in 1901, a third mint was created and the second one was destroyed in 1902. Interestingly enough, they dug up the original cornerstone and put it in a candy jar along with some coins, newspapers and a historical document about the mint and the new one that was about to be built.

The Third Mint of Philadelphia

The designer of the third mint was James Knox Taylor. They decided to build it at the address of 1700 Spring Garden Street, which was a block away from the US Smelting Company. The purpose of this mint was to expand production since demand was so high. In a single year, they were able to mint 501 million US coins and 90 million coins that were for the foreign countries.

Third Philadelphia US Mint - Community CollegeAlso, the design of the mint had a Roman temple style as opposed to the earlier Greek style of the second mint. Again, it was a very large and landmark-worthy building that was as large as an entire city block. To this day, this building still exists but it became part of the Community College of Philadelphia, who acquired it sometime in 1973.

The Current and Modern Philadelphia Coin Mint

The fourth and current modern mint that is in use today was built in 1969 only two blocks away from the original “Ye Olde Mint”. Vincent G. Kling designed this mint, which became the largest mint in the world until January 2009. The coin production here is amazing due to modern technology. In fact, one million coins can be minted in just half an hour, which would have taken 3 years to do at the original mint.

Current Modern Philadelphia Mint TodayNowadays the mint creates more than just US currency, but also commemorative items such as government awards, medals and special coins. Philadelphia also engraves all of the dies here as well. One important thing to note for collectors is that any coin without a mint mark was minted in Philadelphia. The Uncirculated or special coins include a “P” mintmark as well as circulated coins from after 1980 except for the Lincoln cents. Otherwise the regular circulated coins coming out of Philadelphia had no mint market except for the wartime Jefferson nickels and the 1979 Susan B. Anthony Dollar.

Interesting Facts and Coin Statistics of the Philadelphia Mint

Total Number of US Coins Ever Minted in Philadelphia = 344,949,858,004
That’s right! Over 300 BILLION Coins were minted in Philadelphia and that only includes the official US currencies. These figures come from adding up all of the mintages in our database from this particular mint, which does not include the coins that had “N/A” or unknown mint figures or figures from the current year. So the number above is extremely conservative and the total number of coins ever minted in Philadelphia throughout the entire history of the United States of America is at least this much!

Total Number of Half Cents Ever Minted in Philadelphia = 8,092,399 face value worth $40,462

Total Number of Large Cents Ever Minted in Philadelphia = 155,626,453 face value worth $1,556,265

Total Number of Small Cents Ever Minted in Philadelphia = 224,734,003,784 face value worth $2,247,340,038

Total Number of Two Cent Pieces Ever Minted in Philadelphia = 45,601,600 face value worth $912,032

Total Number of Three Cent Pieces Ever Minted in Philadelphia = 73,387,556 face value worth $2,201,627

Total Number of Nickels Ever Minted in Philadelphia = 27,193,713,512 face value worth $1,359,685,676

Total Number of Half Dimes Ever Minted in Philadelphia = 80,897,258 face value worth $4,044,863

Total Number of Dimes Ever Minted in Philadelphia = 45,439,785,128 face value worth $4,543,978,513

Total Number of Twenty Cent Pieces Ever Minted in Philadelphia = 56,710 face value worth $11,342

Total Number of Quarters Ever Minted in Philadelphia = 41,022,963,485 face value worth $10,255,740,871

Total Number of Half Dollars Ever Minted in Philadelphia = 2,807,576,225 face value worth $1,403,788,113

Total Number of Dollars Ever Minted in Philadelphia = 3,071,598,773 face value worth $3,071,598,773

Total Number of Gold Dollars Ever Minted in Philadelphia = 18,258,798 face value worth $18,258,798

Total Number of $2.50 Gold Quarter Eagles Ever Minted in Philadelphia = 16,761,812 face value worth $41,904,530

Total Number of $3 Gold Coins Ever Minted in Philadelphia = 407,161 face value worth $1,221,483

Total Number of $4 Gold Coins Ever Minted in Philadelphia = 472 face value worth $1,888

Total Number of $5 Gold Half Eagles Ever Minted in Philadelphia = 41,914,850 face value worth $209,574,250

Total Number of $10 Gold Eagles Ever Minted in Philadelphia = 34,563,330 face value worth $345,633,300

Total Number of $20 Gold Double Eagles Ever Minted in Philadelphia = 71,180,180 face value worth $1,423,603,600

Article Taken from the USA Coin Book website URL http://www.usacoinbook.com/encyclopedia/coin-mints/philadelphia/

 Obverse and Reverse

The obverse and reverse of a coin. United States Mint image

When we were children, we called the sides of our coins “heads” and “tails.” If you want to be taken seriously as a numismatist (person who studies and collects coins), it is time to learn the proper terms to describe your coins. This way, you can talk to other collectors and coin dealers in the special language of coin collecting, and they’ll not only understand what you mean, but they’ll have a lot more respect for you as a serious numismatist.

Have you ever seen a tail on the back of a coin? Neither have I, but most coins actually do have a head. We call the head side of the coin the obverse. The other side, (the one without the tail) is the reverse.

The Legend, Inscription, Rim and Field

The location of the Legend, Rim, and Field of a coin. Adapted from a United States Mint image

Let’s take a look at the reverse side of a U.S. Lincoln Cent. The first thing to notice is theLegend, also called the Inscription. This is the part of a coin that tells us important things like who made the coin, and how much it is worth.

The field is any flat area of the coin that hasn’t been raised off of the coin during minting. The portion of the design that has been raised is called the relief.

The rim is the upraised part of the coin that runs all the way around the edge of the coin on both sides. The reason for the rim is three-fold: First, it protects the coin’s design from wearing out too quickly; second, it makes the coins easier to stack, and third, it helps bring up the devices during striking.

The Motto, Mint Mark, and Edge

The location of the Motto, Edge, and Mint Mark on a coin. Adapted from a United States Mint image

This is the obverse of the U.S. Lincoln Cent. You can see one of the mottos along the top of the coin, “In God We Trust.” A motto is a word or phrase that has a special meaning to people, perhaps stirring emotions or inspiring them. Current United States coinage has 3 mottos: “Liberty”, “In God We Trust”, and “E Pluribus Unum”. “E Pluribus Unum” is Latin for “Out of Many, One”.

Note the edge of the coin: it has a plain, unadorned surface. The edge is the actual side of the coin, and shouldn’t be confused with the rim.

The mint mark is a letter or symbol that tells us where the coin was minted. Mint marks have appeared on coins since ancient Greek and Roman times, and served as a sort of quality-control mark. If the coin was later found to be wrong somehow, such as silver that wasn’t pure enough, the King or Caesar would know who to question about this. Today, the mint marks on circulating U.S. coins tell us that the coin was minted in one of the following places:

Denver – D
San Francisco – S (producing Proof coins only)
Philadelphia – P (or sometimes no mint mark)

Certain other United States coins, such as gold bullion and proof coins, bear different mint marks than those above.

The Portrait, Date, and Designer’s Initials

The location of the Portrait, Date, and Designer’s Initials on a coin. Adapted from a United States Mint image

One of the most important parts of a coin’s design is its portrait. Most coins have one, including all currently circulating U.S. coins. Portraits on U.S. coins meant for circulation have featured Miss Liberty and former Presidents, but have never featured a living person. This is a major difference between U.S. coinage and that of many other countries, such as England, that have a hereditary monarchy (e.g. a King or Queen as symbolic or literal Head of State.) On their coins the living, reigning Monarch is depicted in the portrait.

The date on the coin tells us when the coin was minted. As we saw on the page before this, the letter right below the date is the mint mark.

The designer’s initials have appeared on most U.S. coins, although they can sometimes be hard to find. Even if you know where they are, you might need a magnifying glass to read them. On the U.S. Lincoln Cent here, the initials are hidden at the base of the portrait in tiny letters; I enlarged them a bit so you can read them. They are “VDB” for Victor David Brenner, the designer of the obverse side of the Lincoln penny which has been in use since 1909.

The Reeded Edge & Clad Layers

Well-worn clad quarters with a copper core and reeded edges. Photo courtesy of CoinPage.com

This is a side view of some fairly well-circulated quarters. U.S. dimes, quarters, and half dollars are called clad coins, because layers of different metals have been sandwiched together. When you look at the edge of a modern clad coin, you can see the copper in the middle, with the outer layers of a silver-colored alloy called cupro-nickel on either side. The U.S. began issuing copper/cupro-nickel clad coins in 1968. (Cupro-nickel is just a fancy word meaning the metal is made of copper and nickel mixed together to form an alloy.)

Earlier in this tutorial we saw a plain edge on the U.S. Cent. These coins have reeded edges. The same U.S. coins that are clad are also reeded (the dime, quarter, and half dollar).

The Proof Coin and the Cameo Portrait

This is a proof coin showing the location of the Cameo Portrait, Upset Rim, and Reeded Edge. Adapted from a United States Mint image

proof coin is made using a special minting process that results in especially high-quality coins. Proof coins aren’t meant for general circulation; they are made for collectors. The proof process has been improved through the years, and one of the features of modern proof coin technology is the cameo portrait.

The cameo portrait, (often just called the “cameo”), has a frosted, matte finish that stands out in sharp contrast to the highly-polished, shiny surface of the field. Proof coins haven’t always been made this way, so keep in mind that not all proof coins will have a cameo, but all proof coins should have pristine, shiny, mirror-like surfaces and clean, bold designs.

The same coins that have reeded edges on their normal, circulating versions will have reeded edges on their proofs. All U.S. coins, proof or circulating, also have a rim. The technical term for this rim is the upset rim because when the coins go through the minting process, the rim is created by the “upsetting” machine. This really just means that the rim is set upward from the surface of the coin, but now you know a highly technical term to impress your fellow collectors with!

Article originally posted at About.com website, http://coins.about.com/od/coinsglossary/ss/coinanatomy.htm