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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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'The Congress shall have the Power . . . To Coin Money.'

(Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 8.)

When the framers of the U.S. Constitution created a new government for their untried Republic, they realized the critical need for a respected monetary system. Soon after the Constitution's ratification, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton personally prepared plans for a national Mint. On April 2, 1792, Congress passed The Coinage Act, which created the Mint and authorized construction of a Mint building in the nation's capitol, Philadelphia. This was the first federal building erected under the Constitution.

President George Washington appointed Philadelphian David Rittenhouse, a leading American scientist, as the first Director of the Mint. Under Rittenhouse, the Mint produced its first circulating coins -- 11,178 copper cents, which were delivered in March 1793. Soon after, the Mint began issuing gold and silver coins as well. President Washington, who lived only a few blocks from the new Mint, is believed to have donated some of his own silver for minting.

When the United States government began minting coins in 1792, the original Mint facility in Philadelphia was hard-pressed to produce enough currency for our small country.

As the country grew and the demand for coins increased, it became necessary to expand Mint facilities. This expansion was further fueled by the discovery of gold, first in the Southeast and later in the West, and by the need for hard currency which caused people to mint their own gold coins. In the mid-nineteenth century, additional mints were opened in Charlotte, NC; Dahlonega, GA; New Orleans, LA; and San Francisco, CA. In 1870, the Carson City, NV Mint opened, and in 1904 the Denver, CO Assay Office became a Mint facility. Today, in order to keep our economy flowing smoothly, the U.S. Mint maintains facilities in Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco, and West Point, and a bullion depository in Fort Knox, KY.

The number of coins minted today is astounding. Denver and Philadelphia alone produce 65 to 80 million coins a day. The stories behind each of the Mint facilities are fascinating, too. To learn more, click a Mint facility listed at the top of this page.

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Last Updated: Friday, June 24, 2016

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