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Kellen's Blog

02 Dec 2015

The Logistics of Making Money

Young Numismatists Exchange | Kellen

The creation of the United States Mint in 1792 was actually a way more difficult process than you may think. In fact, one of the proposals was that a cent would be 1440th of a "unit"! Luckily, Thomas Jefferson saved the day with a decimal system of coinage. But the focus of this article is the law that actually authorized the Mint into being. Hence, the Mint Act of April 2, 1792. In the act, there were 20 sections. Following is an evaluation of each section:

The first section basically says that Congress is all right with a national mint, and that the government will run it; for the time being (I am interested why they said this. Why wouldn’t the government run it?). The mint continues to say that there should be 5 jobs at the mint: a director (the first was David Rittenhouse), an assayer (the guy who makes sure that the amount of metals in the coins are appropriate), the chief coiner (exactly that), the engraver (who generally makes the designs on the coin), and a treasurer (exactly that).

Section two states that the Mint can employ as many workmen and other common jobs as necessary.

Section three details what the different people actually does.

Section four tells the reader that any work person has to take an oath to perform well in their job.

Section five says that the people who have the 5 big jobs (from section 1) are bound to the United States.

Section six covers the payment of the jobs. At the time, the director received $2000! Interestingly, the workmen receive as much as “are customary and reasonable”.

Section seven says that each year a record of transactions at the mint will be given to Congress.

Section eight says that the President can do pretty much anything that keeps the Mint running.

Section nine tells us which denominations are authorized and what their specifications are. At the time, the authorized denominations were: eagles, half eagles, quarter eagles, dollars, half dollars, quarter dollars, dismes, half dismes, cents, and half cents.

Section ten details the outlines for the designs of the coins. It tells us that liberty must be shown on the obverse. It also says that on gold and silver there must be and eagle with “United States of America”, and on copper there must be an engraving detailing the denomination.

Section eleven says that the value of gold to silver is 15:1.

Section twelve says the alloy of the coins and also tells us that the annually the mint director had to report to Congress about the previous year.

Section thirteen also talks about alloy.

Section fourteen says that anybody could come to the mint with gold or silver and have it coined.

Section fifteen says that the bullion from the previous section must be coined in equivalent value to the bullion brought in.

Section sixteen tells us that the gold and silver struck at the mint are legal in all transactions.\

Section seventeen says that all coins struck at the mint must have the correct amount of metal.

Section eighteen tells us that some government officials once a year will be present to check the alloy is correct in the minted coins.

Section nineteen tells us that is there are any messing with the coins for a mint worker’s profit, they will be killed.

Section twenty finally tells us that the unit of the US is dollars.


Comments

user_8197

Level 3

Very informative thanks Kellen!

Kepi

Level 6

Great write up! Lots of info! Thanks Kellen! : )

Numinerd9

Level 5

Nicely done, Kellen! BTW, did anyone else notice that there is nothing in all of this that mentions the actual shape of our USA coinage?! They cover all other aspects pertaining to size, weight, and metallurgic content but not shapes. So why just round? And why not any holey coins - there are at least a half dozen patterns made with holes. So what do you think - what shapes should the Mint come up with for USA coins in the future? And would this attract more people to the hobby? (I can almost hear the feverish keyboard clackings of the angry bankers and retailers now!)

Kellen

Level 5

Why not triangles?

Longstrider

Level 6

Nicely written and researched. I'm proud of you for not just copy/pasting and article. You did a nice summary of the articles. Well done Lad!!

user_7180

Level 5

Great article! The details of how it all started. Any record of who actually received the first ever US Mint coin?

user_5225

Level 5

Thanks, for the information about this.

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