E-Sylum Feature Writer and
American Numismatic Biographies author Pete Smith submitted this
article on the U.S. Mint's "bulletproof" large coin shipment bags. Thanks!
Modern Ballistic Coin Bags
The E-Sylum has had several recent articles about cloth coin bags. This will be a discussion of
the bags that are used by the Mint today.
During 2000 to 2002, the Mint began the transition to large ballistic bags to ship coins. The name
suggests that they are bullet proof. They are made of mylar that is tear resistant. Perhaps a couple
of used bags could be made into a suit that would be bulletproof.
The bags are part of a system that includes a steel pallet for shipping. These create a package that
is 31.5 inches high, 41.5 inches wide and 27.5 inches deep. Coins are run through counting
machines as they come from the presses. These counting machines have some ability to screen
out clipped planchet coins and other error coins.
Bags of cents are not counted but filled by weight. A full bag should include 400,000 cents with
a face value of $40,000. I don't know what is the allowable variance above or below that
amount. The steel pallet, ballistic bag and cents weighs about 2880 pounds.
A bag of nickels has 240,000 coins with a value of $12,000 and weighs 2400 pounds. A bag of
dimes has 500,000 coins with a value of $50,000 and weight of 2,560 pounds. A bag of quarters
has 200,000 coins and also has a value of $50,000 and weight of 2560 pounds.
The Mint offers bulk purchasing of quarters and dollars for qualified numismatic firms. Their
dollar bag includes 140,000 coins. If you can do the math, that comes out to $140,000 in face
The Mint and the Federal Reserve Banks say that the Mint provides new coins to the Federal
Reserve Banks. That may be only partially true. Most of the ballistic bags are shipped by the
armored transportation services with names like Brinks and Loomis. These firms do much of
their business in cash processing. They receive new coins from the Mint and may mix them with
used coins collected from merchants. Coins are rolled, put in boxes and provided to banks and
other clients. Banks can no longer provide Mint wrapped rolls of new coins.
I read on the CU Forum that bags are lifted out of the pallets by a forklift through straps on the
bag and emptied into bins through a spout in the bottom. There is ample opportunity for coins to
bump into other coins and acquire dings and scratches. The process is intended to provide coins
for commerce and not mint state coins for collectors.
I have a contact in the banking industry who indicated that their source for rolled coins was an
industry secret. I assume that the pallets are returned to the Mints. Used bags may also be reused
or may be discarded. I have not found anyone willing to talk about that.
Used ballistic mint bags do hit the marketplace. One was offered recently on eBay
Buy it Now
To read earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
AN ESSAY ON COIN BAGS
COIN BAGS OF THE WORLD
NEWMAN PORTAL ADDS U.S. MINT COIN BAG GUIDE
Wayne Homren, Editor
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