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Philadelphia. United States Mint. Detroit Publishing Co.

Minting for 225 Years

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Inside Adams missed the 225th anniversary of the United States Mint on April 2, 2017 but we still want to note the occasion, because it is a “Big Deal”–at least to business bloggers at the Library of Congress!

This image is the text of the law that created the United States Mint Statute 1 April 2, 1792 "An Act establishing a Mint, and regulating the Coins of the United States,
Statutes at Large, 2nd Congress, 1st Session (page 246)

The Mint created a excellent timeline that traces discussion of starting a mint back to the Revolution.  While the discussion of coinage began early, the country actually started minting coins in 1792 after the passage of the Coinage Act (the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is in charge of paper currency).  The Mint’s original location was in Philadelphia, but over time various other locations, including a branch established in my hometown of New Orleans in 1835, have been added or closed.

image is a street level view that shows what look to be two three story townhouses with dormer window and chimneys
Philadelphia, PA. United States Mint. Frederick De Bourg Richards, photographer (between 1850 and 1860).

The Mint has many historical items on its web page for anyone interested in their history, but the Library of Congress also offers a lot to anyone researching this topic.  You can find many images of the various branches of the Mint on the Library’s web page, including the closed locations in New Orleans, Dahloneg, GA, and Carson City as well as those still in operation, from the headquarters in Washington, D.C. to locations in Denver and the one in San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake.  I’ve also found photographs that show employees working in the smelting room in Philadelphia and one of women in the Adjusting Department in New Orleans.  There are even photographs of several Directors of the Mint, including George E. Roberts (1898-1907 and 1910-1914), Raymond T. Baker (1917-1922), Frank E. Scobey (1922-1923), and Robert J. Grant (1923-1933).

Searching the word “coinage” or “coinage act” or “mint” or “coin” on the Library of Congress homepage brings up more than just photographs. There are the papers from many people, including presidents, which is how I found something by Thomas Jefferson from 1784 about the establishment of a unit of money.  I also found a letter about coinage from 1783 from Gouverneur Morris, a prominent politician from Pennsylvania, who at the time, was an assistant superintendent of finance and later Delegate to the Constitutional Convention.

two images are the same side by side and show two benches of metal bars with an smelter open along the wall between the benches
Stereograph showing interior view with smelting equipment. New Orleans, LA. Philadelphia Min. ca1876.

Searching the web page also yields some of the more recent legislation like H.R.654 from the 103rd Congress (1993-1994): United States Mint Bicentennial Coin Act and H.R.5408 from the 101st Congress (1989-1990): United States Mint Reauthorization and Reform Act of 1990 as well as links to older, full-text items like the hearings for the Coinage Act of 1965.  If you are interested in any of the laws and Congressional activity from 1774 to 1875, head over to a Century of Lawmaking which includes the Congressional Record, Statutes at Large, The Annals of Congress, the official House and Senate journals, as well as the Journals of the Continental Congress which contain a number of reports related to coinage and the establishment of the Mint.

Mrs. Nellie Tayloe Ross Directory of the Mint, (right) and Edward Bruce Chief, Treasury Dept. Procurement Division (left) with tables of designs
Mrs. Nellie Tayloe Ross and Edward Bruce Chief, Treasury Dept. Procurement Division. Inspecting designs for a new five-cent coin to be known as the “Jefferson Nickel”. Harris & Ewing. 1938

The Library’s web page is not the only place to find material about the Mint or coinage in the United States.  The general collection has books and periodicals, including the annual report from the Director of the Mint and books on the Mint’s history.  Of particular interest, are the materials in the papers of Alexander Hamilton who, as the first Secretary of the Treasury, took a keen interest in the new county’s establishment of money and was responsible for the Coinage Act.

And don’t forget the Library’s Chronicling America where you can find lots of interesting tidbits. There are items from 1907 and 1909 about the demolition of the original Mint building in Philadelphia, as well as an article about retiring old Hawaiian money from 1901 and a biographical article from 1920 about Ray T. Baker.

Since money is so relevant to Business Reference, we have published on the topic frequently.  This includes a guide for anyone interested in the study of United States money and, of course, two previous Inside Adams posts — For the Latest on Counterfeit Money and Money Matters: Harriet Tubman, the “Grand Watermelon” debate, and Redemption.

If you want to know more about how the US Mint is celebrating this anniversary, follow them via Facebook and use #USMint225 on Twitter.

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