Visiting the Philadelphia Mint.

dfinney
dfinney @dfinneyJuly 2019 · 7 min read

From June 27th - July 5th I was vacationing on the east coast of the USA. While there I spent time on the New Jersey shore and visiting the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia.


Over the next few days (starting now) I will be sharing some of my travel adventures with you.


The U.S. Mint

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The United States Mint in Philadelphia is the country’s first mint. Coins have been struck here since the mint’s opening in 1792. The current facility opened in 1969. This is Philadelphia’s fourth mint expansion and is located just a couple of blocks from the mint’s original location.

There are four US Mint locations. These are located in Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco and West Point.The United States Mint Agency is headquartered in Washington, DC. Aside from running the mints, this agency also oversees the US Bullion Depository at Fort Knox.

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The Mint is open for FREE tours Monday - Friday, 9:00am - 4:30pm (with extended visiting hours in the summer). However, there is one drawback of visiting the mint. Photos are NOT allowed! 😭😭😭

I suppose this is to deter counterfeiting efforts? 🤔


However, the Mint did provide a lovely self guided tour brochure.

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Helping me remember the things I wasn’t allowed to photograph. 🤣😂


So what did I see at the mint?

When you first walk in there is a giant hall. Dark blue everything. There is a gift shop on the right. Which I was tempted to enter straight away! Instead we headed for the escalator. At the base was the self guided tour brochure.

Upon reaching the second floor (which is much higher in elevation than your standard second floor) there is a mezzanine with several coins on display. Old stuff, new stuff, medals, clad, silver and gold... there were a few of each to ogle.

From the mezzanine we proceeded down what seemed like an unending hallway. Picture something out of the X-Files or Raiders of the Lost Ark. Here we were presented with the steps to create a coin.

Did you know each new coin/style of coin minted can only be created by law?

Think of the America the Beautiful series or the quarters representing each state. The first step in making these coins was someone wrote a bill saying hey, we should have some quarters with an image of each state on the coin. Then the bill had to be approved by Congress (House of Representatives and Senate) before finally being signed into law. Who knew this was a thing?

ART

Once a new coin idea is legislated, artists begin designing the coin’s images. Aside from the coin’s artwork, every one by law must include the words:

  • Liberty
  • In God We Trust
  • United States of America
  • E Pluribus Unum

The denomination and year of mintage must also be included on every coin.

Die Making

Next stop on the self guided tour was die making. Dies in this case are the tools used to make coins. (The dictionary definition is: a specialized manufacturing tool used to cut or shape materials using a press.) Each die has to be precisely made so the coins they create in the end are exactly the same.

Blanking

Here is the part of the tour where we got to look onto the manufacturing floor to see machines working and millions of would be coins on the move. But of course THE MACHINES WEREN’T ON! 😭 So what is blanking? During this portion of the process long strips of copper and nickel are fed through a giant press. Then discs are cut out of the metal (like cookies). These discs are smooth but will eventually become coins. Think of the “blanks” as coins that don’t have a design on them yet.

Annealing and Upsetting

In this phase of coin manufacture, the blanks are heated. This softens them enough to have an image pressed into the blank. The blanks are also tumbled which gives each one an edge. Without the rim made during the tumbling process (upsetting) you wouldn’t be able to stack your coins.

Striking

Now that the blanks (renamed planchets after annealing and upsetting) are toasty warm, it is time to add images to each side. The steel dies from earlier are placed into a machine. There is one die with “head” image and one die with the “tail” image. Then the planchets move on a conveyor belt where the heads and tails images are pressed into the metal with one strike. In this moment new coins are born. ☺️ 💰

Inspecting

After the coins are struck, inspectors closely examine selected coins to ensure no flaws are present. If a flaw is found on a single coin the entire batch is destroyed! The mangled metal is recycled and put to other uses later.

Bagging

Once the coins pass inspection they are individually counted and placed in large bags. The bags are then weighed to reconfirm the coin count. These bags are stored in vaults until being shipped to federal reserve banks nationwide. The Fed banks later distribute coins to your local bank.

Medals and Commemorative Coins

Aside from creating circulating coins, the mint also produces medals and commemorative coins. Medals are struck to honor the achievements of individuals or to honor great events. Commemorative coins honor great people, places and events. These are often struck in valuable metals such as silver or gold.


With the tour complete it was time to visit the GIFT SHOP!

I love tourist trinket gift shops, and this one did not disappoint! The shopping was extra fun because I also collect coins! Let me show you the goodies I purchased. 😃

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First purchase - A MINT CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT!!! I love Christmas and have a Christmas ornament addiction. I collect this style of ornament from most places I travel. Christmas plus travel.... dreamy!

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My next souvenir from the mint was this excellent little charm. I have collected charms from every place I travel my entire life. Over the years their popularity has waned. So finding new charms is always a treat.


My final purchase at the Mint was really special.


2019 Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Proof Silver Dollar!

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The outer packaging.

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The box.

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The certificate of authenticity aka C.O.A.

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Inside the COA information about the passing of the law to create this coin. Also included are descriptions of the images on each side of the coin and the names of the designers and engravers.

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The back of the COA lists facts and stats including the coin’s denomination, finish, composition, diameter, weight, height, edge style, mintage and mint.

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The velvety case.

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FINALLY the coin! Can you see that it is domed? Just like the curvature of the moon’s surface!

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The coin’s reverse features an image based off of a famous photo taken by astronaut Buzz Aldrin. The image shows the moon lander, the US flag, astronaut Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s shadow stretching across the moon’s surface.

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The inverse shows a footprint left on the moon’s surface. Additionally the words Mercury, Gemini and Apollo are written across the top and separated by images of the phases of the moon. Mercury, Gemini and Apollo were the names of The manned US space missions which led up to Neil Armstrong’s historic first steps on the moon.


This will always be a treasured coin in my collection.


Visiting the Mint was an educational and inexpensive way to spend a hot, humid afternoon in Philadelphia.



Proud Member of:

steemsugars, steemusa, teamaustralia and steemsilvergold

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you're awesome @dfinney 🤩👍👍


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You’re awesome! 😍😎


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There was absolutely no doubt you where not gonna leave the Philly MInt without a souvenir, a nice choice! Anymore?


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I only got the one coin. There were some uncirculated state quarters and some really expensive stuff like gold. They also had weird items like ASE’s used as watch faces and earrings made of dimes.

I feel like I would spend more at a Canadian or Australian Mint than here. Most of the US stuff doesn’t get my stackitus tingling. But moon stuff is cool. And I share my birthdate (NOT year) with the moon landing so this has always drawn me a little extra to moon landing stuff. ☺️


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You were born on the moon? That's cool.


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🤔

🌝 👶🏻 🚀 🌎 👩🏻


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She is out of this world!!!


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The mint really is amazing, I remember visiting and seeing thousands and thousands of shiny copper pennies all over the place. It really was a marvel!


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I am so sad the machines weren’t running and none of the money was out the day we visited. Probably everyone was off for the July 4 holiday.


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That's a bummer that's half the fun.


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Havent been there in years, though ive been there over a dozen times. Its a fun tour and they used to let you take pictures also.


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I HATE when I can’t take photos. Did it really even happen without pics?!!


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I’m the same way. My first trip to Europe I took 3,600 pictures in 11 days.


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Omg. That is amazing. 😍 My first trip to Europe was with film. But I only went though 36 rolls of 36 in 39 days. You totally beat me!


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I always want to get the best picture. Im kinda that guy....


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Oh WOW!!!! Your tour of the P Mint must surely be so meaningful, you being an American coin collector and stacker, much more at present time than if you visited say 10 years ago! I am so jelly!!! When I was in Philly during the July 4th weekend a some years back, I watched the fireworks from Love Park, and the P Mint was not even in my radar. A few things are different for me now that I am into stacking. I appreciate your article, and I enjoyed reading it. The Apollo 50th commemorative Silver Dollar is special. Congrats on acquiring it! I am glad you are back, my sweet friend, @dfinney! Have a fantastic weekend!!!


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Ooo! We almost went to Love Park for the fireworks over the Philadelphia Art Museum. But then we realized New Jersey was shooting off fireworks over the river. A much closer walk from our hotel. ☺️

Going to the Mint with more knowledge of coin’s was certainly better than if I had gone before. Funny how life leads us to new interests all the time. ☺️

Happy weekend to you!


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Good stuff @dfinney! I am so bummed the Denver Mint was closed when I was in Colorado. I love tours of just about any assembly line or business like this and know the mint would be super cool.
Hey, wanna trade for the moon coin?


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Oh man.... we could have had a

MINT OFF!!!

Trade.... 😒 Maybe for a nice Seattle bar 🤔


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Love the post and I really need to go. I am fairly close and love the cities history and obviously with my coin addiction the mint lol. Just dont care for the city too much.
Amazing buys! Love the Moon Landing coin and you could have a pourer do the keychain in silver. Thanks for sharing!!


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You are close to Philly? Do you live in Pennsylvania or one of those other nearby states? I always figured the dwings meant you were in Michigan. ☺️

We spent half of our trip on the jersey Shore. I wish we had more time to drive around Pennsylvania or drive down to Annapolis or take the train to New York. Alas... all these adventures must be saved for another day.


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I am over toward Pittsburgh. Yea a lot of people think that lol. It's wonderful country to drive through.


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ehy dear @dfinney, the mint is really an incredible place !! sometimes I dwell on things that we take so much for granted, like coins, and I think of how they were created in the past, how they were designed, to make pieces of different value, make both pieces of metal and paper ... .and make round coins !! why not square ?? beautiful post with all your descriptions, congratulations !! :-))


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It’s crazy the random stuff people just decided to do hundreds or thousands of years ago and somehow we are still building on it today, while at the same time forgetting how to do all of it without the help of automation and computers. Like someone looked at the stars thousands of years ago, recognized commonly seen ones, and even mapped out their paths in the sky. Stuff like that is nuts.


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Very Nice Ms. @dfinney you seemed like you had a BLAST. Especially When You got Into the Gift Shop !


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🤣😂🤣 The gift shop was my favorite part! 😁


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