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What Happens at the U.S. Mint at West Point?

John-Rothans

Written by John Rothans

Sep 13, 2018

The West Point Mint is one of the highest security mints in the nation. It's both a storage and manufacturing facility. What goes on inside this featureless concrete building surrounded by turrets? U.S. Money Reserve, America's Gold Authority®, is here to give you a peek inside. Learn about the history of the West Point Mint, which coins are struck at West Point, and how the nation relies on this critical minting facility.

What's the Story Behind the West Point Mint?

From bullion depository to renowned minting facility

Of the four minting facilities in the United States, the West Point Mint is the nation's newest facility. It was built in 1937 and established as a silver bullion depository in 1938. While it's located close to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, the facility and the service academy are not related.

During World War II, West Point played a central role by loaning silver to the Atomic Energy Commission and U.S. allies under Franklin Roosevelt's Lend-Lease Program.

An astounding “409,782,670.47 fine troy ounces of silver bullion valued at $291,401,009.67 was transferred to Australia, Belgium, Ethiopia, India, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom. Some of these countries sought the silver for coinage while others required it for industrial use or for currency stabilization,” notes a Report to Congress on Lend-Lease Operations.

West Point has also been called the Fort Knox of Silver, and for a good reason! The facility once had the highest concentration of silver of any U.S. mint facility.

West Point began producing pennies and Bicentennial quarters in the 1970s, even though the facility was not yet an official United States Mint. These coins were not stamped with a mint mark, so they could not be distinguished from those produced at the Philadelphia Mint.

Gold metal production began in 1980. Shortly after, West Point became home to about $20 billion worth of gold, making West Point second only to Fort Knox for gold storage.

On March 31, 1988, West Point gained official status as a United States Mint when President Ronald Reagan signed H.R. 2631 into Public Law 100-274. In a letter to Congressman Hamilton Fish, Jr., dated April 11, 1988, Reagan wrote:

“The legislation officially designates the West Point Bullion Depository in Orange County, New York as a United States Mint. The legislation also continues support for the successful Gold Coin Program in which the West Point Mint has been instrumental. The 1984 Olympic coin, the Statue of Liberty coin, and the Constitutional Bicentennial commemorative coin produced by the West Point Mint under the program have set a high standard of excellence in minting.”

The West Point Mint maintains a high standard of excellence to this day, producing gold and silver coins renowned for their precision, beauty, and quality the world over.

What Does the West Point Mint Do?

Stores gold, silver & platinum bullion

The West Point Mint stores gold, silver, and platinum bullion.

During a 2014 visit, CoinNews.net reporters visited the vault of “working bullion” and photographed 3,592 gold bars, valued at almost $1.9 billion on the day of their visit. Working bullion is used as the raw material for minting congressionally authorized coins.

The reporters also photographed 2,800 bars of fine silver, each weighing 1,000 ounces.

“Truth be told,” writes CoinNews.net reporter Darrin Lee Unser, “the silver bars were not nearly as impressive as their gold counterparts, but they still had a value of over $21,000 a piece on the day of our visit.”

Unser adds that a visit to West Point is “not all about gold and silver, even in the vault. There's a feeling of history inside as well.” The walls are covered in a graffiti of sorts. Employees and a few lucky outsiders have written their names and slogans like, “Go Army!” and “GADWAH!”

“I think it's quite neat,” writes Unser, ” a call from the past, and shows the always present pride of Americans.”

However, West Point stores more than American gold and silver. In response to a 2018 Freedom of Information Act request from Coin World, the Treasury Department confirmed that “the West Point facility houses 4,686,358 foreign gold coins, amounting to a total gold weight of 991,855.139 fine troy ounces of gold.”

Mints gold and silver coins, and coins authorized by Congress

West Point produced American coinage before it was an official U.S. minting facility. From 1973 to 1986, West Point produced pennies to reduce production pressure on other facilities. It produced Bicentennial quarters in 1976 to celebrate America's 200th anniversary, and gold medals in 1980.

On March 31, 1988, the West Point Bullion Depository officially became the West Point Mint. It went on to be a mint of many “firsts” for America.

  • In 1997, it produced the first platinum bullion coins, American Eagle Platinum Bullion coins.
  • In 2000, it produced the first gold and bimetallic coin, the Library of Congress Commemorative Bimetallic Ten Dollar Coin.
  • In 2017, West Point struck America’s first palladium coins as part of the American Eagle Palladium Bullion program.

Today, nearly all modern U.S. government-issued silver, gold, and platinum coins are minted at the U.S. Mint at West Point. Most coins produced at the West Point Mint include a “W” mintmark, like Burnished and Proof Gold American Eagle Coins. Bullion coins are produced at the West Point Mint but do not carry “W” mintmarks.

The following are some of the U.S. Mint's most popular coins minted at West Point and currently available from U.S. Money Reserve.

Coins Minted at West Point from U.S. Money Reserve
Image Coin Name Denomination
BULLION
1 oz. Gold American Eagle Bullion Coin Gold American Eagle Bullion Coins 1/10 oz., 1/4 oz., 1/2 oz., 1 oz.
1 oz. Silver American Eagle Coin, View of Front Silver American Eagle Bullion Coins 1 oz.
2017 Gold American Buffalo coin front Gold American Buffalo Bullion Coins 1 oz.
MINT STATE
2018 1/4 oz. Gold American Eagle Coin MS70 in plastic sealed PCGS case with First Strike label 2018 Gold American Eagle MS-70, PCGS First Strike 1/10 oz.
1 oz. Mint State Silver American Eagle Coin Mint State Silver American Eagles 1 oz.
PROOF
Proof Gold American Eagle Coins, Reagan Legacy Series Proof Gold American Eagle Coins 1/10 oz., 1/4 oz., 1/2 oz., 1 oz.
Front and back view of Silver American Eagle Proof Coin in sealed PCGS slab Proof Silver American Eagle Coin 1 oz.
Certified American Gold Buffalo Gold Coins in sealed plastic case Proof Gold American Buffalo Coins 1/10 oz., 1/4 oz., 1/2 oz., 1 oz.
BURNISHED/UNCIRCULATED
Burnished Gold Eagle Coin with W Mintmark W Burnished Gold American Eagle Coin 1/10 oz., 1/4 oz., 1/2 oz., 1 oz.
HIGH RELIEF
2009 1 oz. Ultra High Relief Gold Double Eagle Coin 2009 Ultra-High Relief Gold Double Eagle Coin 1 oz.

Where Can You Buy West Point Mint Coins?

You can't walk into the West Point Mint and buy coins or bars. Unlike the Denver Mint, the original San Francisco Mint, and the Philadelphia Mint, you can't even tour West Point. Security prohibits public tours, but special visitors have been admitted in the past (like the reporters from CoinNews.net).

You can, however, buy gold and silver coins minted at West Point Mint from U.S. Money Reserve, America's Gold Authority®. Fully backed by the United States government for their gold content, weight, and purity, U.S. Money Reserve’s West Point coin selection is practically unparalleled. Shop online or call 1-844-307-1589 to buy West Point coins over the phone today!

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