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The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 24, June 13, 2010, Article 12

QUIZ ANSWER: HOW MANY DIFFERENT U.S. MINT BUILDINGS?

Last week Bob Neale posed the question, "How many different building facilities has the United States authorized to mint coinage?"

Carson City Mint
The Carson City Mint

Pete Smith writes:

I came up with a list of sixteen minting facilities. Two that might be missed are the ones at The Dalles, Oregon, or Manila, Philippines. However, I see problems with my list and realize I could write a long essay on the topic. Perhaps, if I can find the time, I will start that essay.

Then there is the problem counting Mint buildings. The first Philadelphia Mint had about a dozen buildings. I have less information about other facilities with multiple buildings.

The Coin World Almanac does not mention the Mint at The Dalles. I thought David Ganz' book on coinage laws would mention all the authorizing bills but that was a big disappointment.

A general observation: Bills in Congress authorize the establishment of a Mint. They are less likely to authorize construction of a building. That is part of the frustration. I was hoping for more information about the buildings.

One of the Mints I count is the third Denver Mint, authorized by Congress but never built.

Good point about the multiple buildings of the first Philadelphia Mint, but for the purpose of this quiz we're counting them as a single facility. -Editor

Second San Francisco Mint
Second San Francisco Mint, after 1906 Earthquake and Fire

OK - here is Bob Neale's list of sixteen Mint buildings:

  • Philadelphia (4)
  • Charlotte (2, including rebuilding after consumed by fire 27 July 1844)
  • Dahlonega (1)
  • New Orleans (1)
  • San Francisco (3)
  • Denver (1)
  • Carson City (1)
  • West Point (1)
  • Manila (1, Philippines Territory, 1920-1941, in an existing building; after coinage 1903-1919 at P and S mints)
  • The Dulles (1, in Oregon, authorized in 1864 following discovery of gold in Rogue River Valley; building 1868-1870 was terminated with only basement and first floor completed; never struck coinage.

Mark Borckardt writes:

That was a great question, and it is subject to interpretation. Here is my answer, even though the actual buildings were not authorized by the U.S., in a couple cases.

1. First Philadelphia Mint
2. Second Philadelphia Mint
3. Third Philadelphia Mint
4. Fourth Philadelphia Mint
5. Denver Mint
6. First San Francisco Mint (beginning in 1854)
7. Second San Francisco Mint
8. Third San Francisco Mint
9. West Point Mint
10. Charlotte Mint
11. Dahlonega Mint
12. New Orleans Mint
13. Carson City Mint
14. The Dalles, Oregon
15. The Denver Mint of Clark, Gruber was intended to be operated as a United States Mint, although the government produced no actual coins at that facility.
16. The U.S. Assay Office in San Francisco, operated by Augustus Humbert absolutely qualifies
17. The “Fugio” Mint where the 1787 Fugio cents were produced.

I have attached illustrations of 16 of those 17 listed. The combination of "building facilities" and "authorized" pose the challenge. Does that mean "authorized to build," or "authorized to occupy?"

For example, the San Francisco Assay Office occupied by Augustus Humbert when the US Assay gold coins were produced may have been a previous structure that the government authorized Humbert to occupy, rather than a new building constructed for the purpose.

Also, we could add "Harper's cellar" to the list for the 1792 half dismes, if that is where they were struck. Then there are the Nova Constellatio patterns. Continental dollars (or whatever they are) could also be included.

If the Charlotte Mint burned down before coinage began (and I have never heard of that before) was rebuilt, was it also reauthorized? If not, then it doesn't count as two, only as one. The only southern mint that burned down, to the best of my knowledge, was Dahlonega, but that was long after coinage ended.

Click here to view all of Mark's U.S. Mint building illustrations on our Flickr archive (Many thanks to Mark and also to John Salyer for uploading these): www.flickr.com/photos/coinbooks/sets/72157624261506804/

New Orleans Mint
The New Orleans Mint

Mark Borckardt adds:

I will be speaking at the Whitman Expo in Baltimore on Friday, June 18, at 2 PM. The title of my presentation is "60 Minutes at the First Mint" and my goal will be to tell the entire history of that facility in an hour. I am looking forward to seeing many The E-Sylum readers in Baltimore. Here is a link for more information: www.whitmanexpo.com .

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: QUIZ QUESTION: HOW MANY DIFFERENT U.S. MINT BUILDINGS? (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n23a14.html)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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