See how coins were made from the 1500s to early 1800s

A good screw press in the early 19th century had the ability to generate 15 to 20 tons of pressure per strike and could produce about 30 coins per minute. Not bad for a machine that had to be operated by hand.

The public can see a smaller version of such a screw press in action monthly at the American Numismatic Association's Edward C. Rochette Money Museum. Museum staffers will be on hand from noon to 4 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month to demonstrate the minting process and produce commemorative coins for museum visitors to take home. The third Saturday of every month is Free Saturday at the museum, where all exhibits are open to the public free of charge.

During these demonstrations, visitors will learn about the different parts of the screw press, including:

  • The rolling mill, which is used to thin the metal used for the Money Museum's commemorative coins down to the correct thickness.
  • The blanking press, which is used to create "blanks," or round pieces of metal that will eventually become the coin.
  • The castaing machine, also called an edging mill, which is used to turn the blanks into "planchets." This is done by first "upsetting" the blank, or squeezing it so that the metal raises around the rim. The second function is to impress the edge design on the outer rim of the coin.
  • The striking press, which is the machine used to strike the design of the coin onto the planchet and complete the minting process.