May 22, 2015 10:01:00 AM / by Mike Joyce

US_Mint_InformationYou probably touch and see coins every day, but when was the last time you stopped to think about where they came from? The coins that are in your car, wallet, or sitting on your nightstand have a rich history behind them, as does the place they were made. Although the United States Mint is fairly new compared to other Mints around the world, it has still undergone many changes in its lifetime.

The United States Mint primarily produces circulating coins for the United States and was established in 1792. The first Mint building was built in Philadelphia, the capital of the United States at the time. Today, the U.S. Mint's headquarters is located in Washington D.C., which is not a coin-producing facility.


Before the United States' official founding, people traded for goods with foreign coins, but with the creation of the U.S. Constitution and a new government, there was a critical need for a respected and established monetary system. Soon after the Constitution's ratification, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton created plans for a national Mint. On April 2, 1792, Congress passed The Coinage Act, which established the Mint and made it responsible for creating coins for public use. Soon after, a Mint was built in Philadelphia. In 1873, the U.S. Mint became part of the Department of Treasury.

Current facilities

There are currently four active coin-producing mints in the United States: Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco, and West Point. There is also a bullion depository located in Fort Knox, Kentucky. The coins of each branch are identified by a small letter on the coins known as a mint mark.

  • Philadelphia: The Philadelphia branch was first built in 1792 and began operations a year later. President George Washington appointed David Rittenhouse as its first director. The original building, which was the tallest building in Philadelphia at the time, became known as "Ye Olde Mint." The Philadelphia branch is currently in its fourth building, which opened in 1969.

  • Denver: The Denver branch of the U.S. Mint was established in 1862 after the Treasury Department proposed that a branch mint needed to be established for the coinage of gold. The Mint opened for business in September 1863 as the United States Assay Office. In 1874, Congress gave the Denver branch the authority to produce coins for the United States.

  • San Francisco: President Millard Fillmore authorized the creation of the San Francisco branch with the Act of July 3, 1852. The California Gold Rush of 1849 is often cited as the motivation for this legislation, as it became important for miners to convert their gold into coins. The demand for coins rapidly increased over time, resulting in two new buildings for the San Francisco branch. In 1961, the branch's second location, known as the "Granite Lady," was designated as a National Historic Landmark.

  • West Point: The West Point Facility was completed on June 13, 1938 and sits on four acres of land near West Point Military Academy's old North Gate. The West Point branch played a pivotal role during World War II by loaning silver to the Atomic Energy Commission under the Lend-Lease Program. On March 31, 1988, President Reagan signed Public Law 100-274, giving the West Point facility official status as a United States branch. Today, this branch stores, secures, and protects most of the silver bullion owned by the United States as well as one-quarter of the nation's gold reserves.

Functions of the U.S. Mint

Each branch of the United States Mint has its own set of activities and responsibilities.


  • Sculpts and engraves U.S. coins and medals

  • Producers of medal and coin dies, coins for general circulation, uncirculated coin sets, commemorative coins, and medals

  • Conducts public tours


  • Production of coins, coin dies, regular uncirculated coin sets, and commemorative coins

  • Conducts public tours

  • Stores gold and silver bullion

San Francisco

  • Produces regular proof coin sets in clad and silver as well as commemorative coins

West Point

  • Produces all uncirculated and proof one-ounce silver bullion coins, all sizes of uncirculated and proof gold bullion coins, the 24-karat one-ounce American Buffalo gold bullion coin, and commemorative coins

  • Stores silver, gold, and platinum bullion

Interested in learning more about coins and investing in precious metals? Download our free eBook, The Beginner's Guide to Investing in Precious Metals.

Gulfcoast Coin & Jewelry The Beginner's Guide to Investing in Precious Metals

Topics: Precious Metals

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