Coins are everywhere. In fact, I’m willing to bet there are some hiding inside or under the couch or chair you are sitting in right now. Have you ever stopped to think about how these round pieces of metal we absentmindedly set on top of our dresser , lose in the couch, or stash in a jar for a rainy day come to be?
The process can be explained in 7 steps:
- Blanking: In the United States, coins are minted in one of 4 cities (Denver, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and West Point). Sheets of metal measuring 13 inches wide and 1500 feet long are rolled into coils. These coils are fed through a blanking press, which is basically a large cookie cutter that punches out coin sized discs that are blank.
- Heating and Washing: The blank coins are heated to 1500 degrees fahrenheit in a furnace to make them soft. They are then washed and dried.
- Riddling: The blanks get run through a “riddler” that pulls out any that are the wrong size.
- Upsetting: The coins that pass the size and shape test are run through an “upsetting” mill which gives each blank a raised rim. Once a blank has made it to this point in the process, it is called a planchet.
- Striking: The planchets are now are ready to become coins. Large stamps (called dies) give them the proper design and inscription to make them an official US coins.
- Inspection: The newly minted coins are spot checked for any blemishes or striking errors. They are once again run through a sizer which gets rid of any bent or dented coins.
- Bagging and dispersing: The coins are counted (via machine) into large canvas bags, loaded onto pallets and shipped to the federal reserve. The reserve banks send them to your local banks where they are dispersed to local stores and eventually end up in your pocket or under your couch cushions.
All the U.S Mint locations provide tours so you can see this process first hand. In the event that you are unable to make it to one of these facilities in your lifetime, do not worry! The U.S mint has provided a virtual tour on their website.
Today, the equipment they use to make coins can pump out up to 75 million coins in a 24 hour period. That’s a lot of coins and explains why they can be found almost everywhere! Next time you empty your pockets, or lift up your couch cushions take a closer look at those coins you find and consider all the work that went in to their creation.
Stay tuned next week when we talk about what happens when this process goes awry and error coins are produced!
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02 Dec. 2015 <http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0854844.html>.