Date of Service: 1793 to Present
Mint Mark: No mint mark, except "P" on 1942-1945 nickels, 1979 Susan B. Anthony, and all coins 1980 and newer, except cents.
The US Philadelphia Mint began construction in
the summer of 1792, the first federal buildings erected under the
Constitution for public use.
|United States Mint Facilities|
|San Francisco||Carson City||Denver||West Point|
|The Creation of the US Philadelphia Mint|
Not long after Constitution was ratified,
President George Washington and other government leaders sought to
create a national mint. They believed that coinage bearing the name
"United States of America" would help establish the identity of the new
nation, in addition to serving the needs of commerce.
While legislation was being drafted to authorize
a national mint for
the United States, a grassroots movement in favor of depicting
President Washington on the new coinage was underway. After all,
European rulers were known throughout the world because their faces
appeared on coins, so why shouldn't the American president be likewise
revered? Washington himself rejected that idea, saying it reminded him
too much of a monarchial practice, something the Americans had fought
so many years to be free of. With that question settled, the wording
needed for the proposed legislation became clearer.
|The First Facility -- Ye Olde Mint|
President Washington appointed David Rittenhouse
to be the first
Director of the Mint. On July 18, 1792, Rittenhouse purchased two
contiguous lots located at Nos. 37 and 39 Seventh Street and 631
Filbert Street in Philadelphia for $4266.67.
The three-story "Ye Olde Mint" building measured
nearly 37 feet in
width and extended back a mere 33 feet.
In January, 1816, the mill and smelt houses
caught fire. The mill house
was completely destroyed, and was replaced with a large brick building.
"Ye Olde Mint" and its sister coining facilities
at the site of the
first mint served the United States faithfully until 1833, when
operations shifted to the second Philadelphia Mint, a much larger,
majestic edifice. The first US Philadelphia Mint was then sold to
Amidst the blare of car horns and the modern day
hustle and bustle, a
plaque memorializes the First US Mint that stood at this spot two
|The Second Philadelphia Mint -- A Grecian Temple|
By 1829, the America's thirst for coinage
outpaced the capacity constraints of "Ye Olde Mint". A piece of land on
the northwest corner of Chestnut and Juniper was purchased, and on July
4, 1829, the cornerstone was laid and construction began.
Following the blueprint of architect William
Strickland, the second
Philadelphia Mint resembled a famous temple located near the city of
Athens, Greece, along the river Ilysus.
Under the watchful eye of the "Mother Mint", new
branch mints were born
in Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana, California, and Nevada.
The second Philadelphia Mint was sold in 1902 and razed the following year. As the demolition proceeded, workmen discovered the long ago forgotten cornerstone buried in 1833. The cornerstone contained a candy jar with a petrified cork. The jar held three coins, a couple of newspapers, and a scroll providing sketchy information on the first mint and the creation of the second. As the final pile of rubble was carted away, the second Philadelphia Mint sadly passed into history.
|The Third Philadelphia Mint -- A Marbled Wonder|
In addition to being too small, sharp criticism
of the abhorrent work conditions at the old mint at Juniper and
Chestnut contributed to the decision to build a much larger mint
building. The third Philadelphia Mint was built on Spring Garden avenue
between 16th and 17th Streets, and opened for business in the latter
half of 1901.
Filling nearly a full city block, the massive
new structure became an
instant landmark, thanks to its impressive Roman temple facade. Walking
past the huge columns, visitors were greeted by a lobby finished in
gorgeous Italian marble.
|Today's Philadelphia Mint|
In 1969, the fourth and current Philadelphia
Mint opened at Fifth
Street and Arch, a scant two blocks from where "Ye Olde Mint" was built
in 1792. This building resembles a plain box with very few windows and
lacks the character of its predecessors, but is far more secure.
Another tangible link to the past is Peter the
Mint Eagle. Sometime
after mechanization arrived at the Mint in the earlier decades of the
19th century, a friendly bald eagle (apparently eagles still roamed
freely in southeastern Pennsylvania less than 200 years ago) claimed
the Mint as his home. Instantly, he became a popular mascot to the Mint
employees, and was named Peter.
|Saga of the U.S. Mint Chapters|
Return to the Saga of the U.S. Mint home.
Guide to Coin Collecting.
New York, NY: The New York Times Company, 2002.
The U.S. Mint and Coinage.
New York, NY: Arco Publishing Company, 1966.
A History of United States Coinage.
London, England: A.S. Barnes & Company, Inc. 1980.
|4||Doty, Richard. America's
Money, America's Story.
Sydney, OH: Amos Press, Inc., 1998.
The U.S. Mint.
New York, NY: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.