Establishment of the U.S. Mint

Establishment of the U.S. Mint

US #1577 shows an Indian head penny and a Morgan-type Silver Dollar.  Click image to order.

On April 2, 1792, Congress passed the Coinage Act, also known as the Mint Act, which among other things, created the United States Mint.

In colonial America, settlers were expected to follow the rules set by the king of England.  While a few charters allowed colonies to produce their own coins, most did not.  Then in 1652, the people of the Massachusetts Bay Colony took a chance when England was without a king and established their own mint in Boston.   Though a new king later came to power, the Boston Mint struck all its coins for 30 years with a 1652 date, to lead the British to believe all those coins had been minted then.

US #1578 pictures a 20-dollar Gold Double Eagle and a quarter. Click image to order.

A century later, as America went to war with England for its independence, the issue of coin production arose again.  In February 1777, a congressional committee suggested the creation of a national mint in America.  While the Treasury Board was supposed to begin planning a mint, they took no further action.  However, this was the first known instance of Congress’ interest in creating a national mint.

US #1577-78 – Set of three Banking and Commerce First Day Covers. Click image to order.

The following year, the Articles of Confederation authorized the states to strike their own coins.  That same year, a committee designed the Treasury seal, which is used on US money and is part of the Mint seal.

Then in 1782, the Superintendent of Finance Robert Morris addressed Congress, asking to establish a US mint, with the production costs to be paid by those that used the coins.  Four years later, the Continental Congress authorized the establishment of a mint but stated that coins should be produced on contract rather than at the expense of the public.

US #1053 is often considered one of the most beautiful US portrait stamps of the 1900s. Click image to order.

However, in 1789, the new Constitution went into effect, replacing the Articles of Confederation.  Under the Constitution, Congress was given the power to make money, regulate its value, and punish counterfeiters.  It also prohibited the states from producing their own money.  Two years later, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton submitted a report to Congress suggesting a mint.  Congress responded and produced a resolution in March 1791.  A little over a year later, the resolution became law on April 2, 1792.  It authorized the creation of national mint “at the seat of the government of the United States.”  The US Mint building in Philadelphia was the first Federal building created under the Constitution.

US #1283 was re-issued because the excessive shading led some to call this the “unshaven” Washington. Click image to order.

The act called for the Mint to make coins of gold, silver, and copper.  The first coins struck were half dimes reportedly made from silverware donated by George and Martha Washington.  The first coins to be struck and circulated were 11,178 copper cents delivered on March 3, 1793.  Sometimes called the chain cent, it was unpopular with the public because the chain of 15 links on the back (meant to symbolize the states) reminded many of slavery.  It was quickly replaced with the wreath cent, which you can view here.

Click here to read the full text of the Coinage Act of 1792 and here for more history on the US Mint.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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5 responses to "Establishment of the U.S. Mint"

5 thoughts on “Establishment of the U.S. Mint”

  1. While the links to the chain cent and wreath links aren’t currently working, the history lessons here are always amazing!
    It’s time for a Mystic History book for schools to return true history to education. Including stamp pictures in the book would reinforce how our country has evolved. Amazing work Mystic. Thanks!

  2. US Mint now a days produce too many different coins. The curiosity and desire to collect is dwindling down. However the quality of coins and service by mint is great. I was disappointed as I could not order Palladium coin even after first few seconds of on line sale. In first few second mint posted sold out. May be they sold to dealers keeping out of reach of individual collector. That is not fair.

  3. I get amazed every day at the wealth of information Mystic stamp provides and how clear and concise it is. A very interesting slice of American history that until now was unbeknownst to me. Thanks again Mystic Stamp.

  4. It makes “cents” to collect coins as well as stamps. To hold them is stepping back a moment in time. I recently attended a briefing on early coinage. Mystic and the briefer were in tune with the times. I recently acquired a 1925 Mercury Dime that looked as good as the day it was minted. What a find. I agree with the person who tried to purchase the new Palladium coin. The notes stated “one per household” yet a short time later coin companies had them for sale. I’m so glad that Mystic gives everyone the opportunity to own a piece of history.


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