The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 47, November 22, 2015, Article 7


Dave Bowers published an article on Coin Update November 19, 2015 about Dennis Tucker's new book, American Gold and Silver. Here's an excerpt. -Editor

Cover_American-GoldSilver Imagine if a coin collector had visited the Philadelphia Mint in the 1790s and had seen engraver Robert Scot working on dies, had watched copper, silver, and gold coins being struck on presses, had seen newly minted “pennies” packed in wooden casks and shipped by horse wagon, and had taken notes and asked questions. How much more we would know now!

A new Whitman Publishing book, American Gold and Silver, reflects the work of a modern-day equivalent of that fictitious visitor. Author Dennis Tucker, through the office of Mint Director of Corporate Communications Tom Jurkowsky and his staff, has had the opportunity in recent years to visit and go behind the scenes at all four operating mints: Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco, and West Point.

I had the honor of accompanying him, Tom, and on occasion some other researchers. At the Philadelphia Mint Dennis visited with the artist-sculptors in the Engraving Department, viewed sketches and models, and learned many details of their work. At West Point he saw gold bullion-related coins being struck. Examining coinage dies under microscopes, witnessing a huge Gräbener press stamping out five-ounce silver discs, watching limited-edition collector coins being carefully packaged, observing circulation coins being put in huge sacks and handled by forklifts—Dennis experienced it all.

Dennis Tucker at Philadelphia Mint
Dennis Tucker, Q. David Bowers, and Tom Jurkowsky at the Denver Mint (left);
Tucker examining a John F. Kennedy Presidential dollar coinage die at the San Francisco Mint (right).

The result is a numismatic study, a tour de force, and for you the reader an “I was there” experience. Deputy Mint Director Dick Peterson shared information, as did the superintendents (today called plant managers) of Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco, and West Point, and mint employees involved in all aspects from planchet preparation to coinage to shipping. This level of first-person experience is at once exciting, informative, and in the annals of numismatic research unique.

While we know much about how copper, silver, and gold coins were made at the Philadelphia Mint in the 1790s, much more about that era is still conjecture. There was no Dennis Tucker present. So far as I have been able to determine, no dedicated researcher or journalist ever visited to take detailed notes.

Today the U.S. Mint—the Treasury agency headquartered in Washington, DC—is the center for supervising the nation’s four mint facilities plus the Fort Knox bullion depository, keeping records, implementing coin programs (with themes mandated by Congress), releasing news to keep the public informed, and many other activities. The Mint often has displays at leading coin conventions, where officials and employees are on hand to meet and greet visitors. It is a new era of information and communication.

The above said, American Gold and Silver is the first book in numismatics to have been produced with the collaboration of those actively involved, day to day, in American coinage—artists, assayers, historians, factory workers, technicians, managers, and other Mint staff and workers.

In my own world of research, writing, buying, and selling, I concentrate mainly on older coins (although I do have a collection of modern dollars). As I read the advance proofs of this book I learned many things that for me were new and even amazing. I was quite surprised to learn that one of the First Spouse gold coins, a series honoring presidential wives, depicts and names a lady who, for all I know, was never in the White House! In fact, her cause was anathema to President Woodrow Wilson, who might have had her tossed in jail (as he did with others of her persuasion). Her name is Alice Paul. (If you can’t wait, fast-forward to chapter 6.)

Much other information—some familiar, some new—awaits you, compiled, distilled, and analyzed in American Gold and Silver. Beyond the interesting text the book will serve permanently as the source for facts on the U.S. Mint’s modern gold and silver coins and medals.

Enjoy the experience!

AmericanGoldSilver_p_043 AmericanGoldSilver_p_240

To read the complete article, see:
Behind the Scenes at the U.S. Mint: “You Are There!” (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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