Mints and Minting: Fun and Fascinating

Gold and Silver Coins Up Close

At APMEX, we recognize the importance of world mints, because where would we be without them? The art and science of coin minting and the history of world mints may seem like a dry subject from the outside. The fact is these are intriguing topics even for laypeople. There is a great deal of art, history and politics wrapped up in minting coins. Learning about mints and minting is a captivating way to increase your appreciation for the coins in your collection or investment portfolio.

How Are Coins Made?

At the United States Mint, producing or purchasing planchets, or coin blanks, begins the actual process of striking coins. These planchets are sent to coinage presses, where in a single, powerful stroke they are stamped with the artwork and text that turns coin blanks into legal tender. At the U.S. Mint, most of the presses can strike four coins at the same time, though some do just two at once. This is especially astounding when you consider that in 2015, the United States Mint produced 17,046,700,000 total coins for circulation! That doesn’t even take into account all of the collectible and numismatic items they produce.

How Many Coins Can a Single Die Strike?

Minting has come a long, long way from the hand-struck coins made prior to the 17th century. While the anvil, or bottom, die used for a hammered coin might last for 10,000 strikes, the United States Mint tells us that contemporary dies, made of special hardened steel, can strike hundreds of thousands of coins in their natural lifetime.

What is the Oldest Mint in North America?

In North America, the oldest mint is the Casa de Moneda de México, or Mexican Mint. It was established in 1535 by a Spanish Royal decree and was first mint in the Americas. The Silver coins of Casa de Moneda de México circulated widely in the Americas well into the 19th century and were an influencing factor on the modern national currency of the United States. Put simply, without the Mexican Mint, the United States Mint would be quite different from the institution it is today.

What is the Oldest Mint in the World?

Now this is fascinating! Your thoughts may immediately jump to The Royal Mint, which was consolidated in 1279, or perhaps the Austrian Mint, which is believed to have been founded in 1194, but you would be off by a few centuries. Monnaie de Paris was officially founded in 864 by a royal edict from Charles II. It is France's longest-standing institution and the oldest minting enterprise in the world. When you consider that the Royal Canadian Mint — a respected world mint with an interesting backstory — was officially opened in 1908, it brings into context the great age and history of Monnaie de Paris, a venerable institution in a class by itself.

Mints and minting make for thrilling history lessons when we take the time to delve into their stories. Consider this a jump-start into discovering more fun and fascinating facts about world mints!

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