A Short History of the United States Mint



The United States Mint was established when the country was still very young. The framers of the constitution recognized the importance of a national currency for the ease of trade and commerce. The plans for the Mint were developed by then Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and, on April 2 1792, The Coinage Act was passed by Congress. This created the national Mint and authorized the first Mint building, which was constructed in Philadelphia – the capital of the USA at the time. In addition to being the first Mint, it also had the distinction of being the first federal building built under the constitution.

The first director of the Mint was David Rittenhouse, who got the position with his skills as treasurer of Pennsylvania from 1777 to 1789 and his acquaintance with George Washington. Rittenhouse was a famous scientist and had contributed significantly to the fields of surveying and astronomy. His biggest contribution to US coinage was in hand striking the very first coins to test the new equipment. The material to form the coins was actually flatware provided by Washington and, as a token of his gratitude to Washington’s help in creating the Mint, Rittenhouse gave the coins to him. Although this first round of production was not approved by Congress, Rittenhouse was still a prominent figure in US Mint history, and in 1871 Congress paid tribute by approving a coin to commemorate his life

The Chief Coiner of the first US Mint was Henry Voigt, who was famous for clock making and steamboat development. He was well acquainted with Thomas Jefferson, as the repairman for his clocks and watches. In 1791 he applied for a job in the new Mint and was considered well qualified for the Chief Coiner position because of prior coin production experience working in a German Mint when he was younger. During his stint at the Mint, he was credited with the creation of some of the first coin designs.

Several branch facilities opened since the development of the first national Mint in 1792, and the need arose for an identifying feature on each coin to show where it was made. Those were, of course, mint marks. The first branch mint facilities were in Charlotte, North Carolina and Dahlonega, Georgia- both from 1838 to 1861. There was also the New Orleans, Louisiana branch, which opened in 1838 as well, but lasted until 1909.

The national mint is now in Washington D.C,  as it is the current capital city of the nation, but Philadelphia is home to the Mint’s largest facility and one of four coin-producing mints that is currently active. The Philadelphia Mint building has changed four times since the inception of Mint operation in 1793. Coins produced in Philadelphia had no mint mark until 1980, except for the Susan B. Anthony dollar and the wartime Jefferson nickel. In 1980, the “P” mint mark was started. Despite losing the national Mint title to Washington D.C., Philadelphia remains the site of the national engraving and design departments of the mint and master die production for U.S. Coinage is also conducted there.


Monday, December 24th, 2012 Blog

No comments yet.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Privacy Policy

Your privacy is important to us. Please read our privacy policy in our "About Us" page.

Online Right Now

1 User Browsing This Page.
Users: 1 Guest