Iron gates of the U.S. Mint in Denver, CO

What Happens at the Four U.S. Mint Facilities?


Written by John Rothans

Aug 3, 2018

Ever wonder where your gold and silver coins begin their lives? How about your pocket change? America has official, coin-producing minting facilities from east to west, north to south. These facilities are some of the most popular and trusted coin minting facilities in the world.

In order of date established, the mints are located in Philadelphia, PA; San Francisco, CA; Denver, CO; and West Point, NY. There are two non-coin-producing facilities located in Washington, D.C. and Fort Knox, KY, which serve as the U.S. Mint’s administrative headquarters and bullion depository, respectively.

Each of these mints played a key role in America's history—a history that's really just beginning. Some helped simplify gold ownership in the 1800s, while others came to the rescue when everyday coinage was in short supply. Today, each coin-producing minting facility helps support American coinage in a different way.

Meet America's Coin Producing Mints

Philadelphia, PA

The Nation's First Mint

Exterior of the Philadelphia Mint, the Mother Mint" and the U.S. Mint's largest and oldest facility

Often referred to as “The Mother Mint,” Philadelphia is the U.S. Mint's largest and oldest facility. The first Philadelphia Mint was built in 1792, when Philadelphia was still the U.S. capital.

Before this time, virtually all coins circulating in the U.S. were foreign. America did not have its own coinage system. This made everyday transactions extremely difficult. To remedy the issue, Congress passed the Coinage Act of 1792. This landmark legislation authorized the creation of a mint to manufacture dollars and cents, money that was uniquely American in American denominations. Philadelphia was chosen as the site for this Mint.

The Philadelphia Mint officially began operation in 1793. In March of that year, it delivered its first circulating coins: 11,178 copper cents.

The Philadelphia Mint went on to produce:

  • Copper half-cent and one-cent pieces
  • Silver half-dimes (what would become the modern nickel)
  • Dimes
  • Quarters
  • Half-dollars
  • Dollars
  • Gold two-and-a-half-dollar coins
  • Gold five-dollar coins
  • Gold ten-dollar coins

In 1933, the federal government abandoned the gold standard and the Mint ceased production of circulating gold pieces. Then in 1964, the Mint ended its production of circulating silver coins, as it was no longer economically feasible to issue American coinage with a silver content of up to 90%.

The Philadelphia Mint moved to its current, and fourth location on Independence Mall in 1969. Today, the Mint can produce more than one million coins within a 24-hour period. It now provides an array of coins and related coin manufacturing services, including coin/medal dies, circulating coins, numismatic products, commemorative coins as authorized by Congress, and Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts awarded to military heroes.

You can tour the Philadelphia Mint for free Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (ET). Hours may vary in the summer and on holidays. Tour highlights include seeing the first coining press used to strike America's first coins in 1792, and Peter the Mint Eagle, a real Bald Eagle who made the first mint his home. Mint artists still study Peter when working on new eagle designs.

San Francisco, CA

“The Granite Lady” and a Friend to the Gold Miners

Exterior view of the San Francisco Mint

In response to California's prosperous gold mines, President Millard Fillmore recommended a branch mint be built in the state in his first message to Congress on December 2, 1850. The San Francisco Mint opened a few years later in 1854 to serve the gold miners of the California Gold Rush. The mint quickly outgrew its original building and moved to a stone facility in 1874, a building named “The Granite Lady” for its stately granite classic revival architecture. At one time, “The Granite Lady” held about one-third of all the gold in the nation.

This building survived the great earthquake and fire of 1906 and helped save the city from total economic chaos by serving as a financial center. With local banks and buildings destroyed, it was the only institution capable of receiving and disbursing the money needed for the city's recovery.

The San Francisco Mint's present facility opened in 1937. It was closed in 1955, then reopened a decade later during the coin shortage of the mid-1960s. In 1968, it took over most proof-coinage production from Philadelphia, and since 1975, it has been used solely for proof coinage, with the exception of the Anthony dollar and a portion of the mintage of cents in the early 1980s. (These cents are indistinguishable from those minted at Philadelphia.) It does not produce circulating coins.

Except for the five-cent pieces minted between 1942 and 1945, coins struck at the Philadelphia Mint before 1979 do not have a mint mark. Starting in 1979, the letter “P” was used on the dollar and on all other denominations except the cent.

The modern-day San Francisco Mint does not offer tours. However, the original San Francisco Mint is available for tours and events. You can even get married in “The Granite Lady!”

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Denver, CO

The Single Largest Producer of Coins in the World

Exterior view of Denver Mint

Similar to the San Francisco Mint, Congress established the Denver Mint in 1862 in response to the gold rush occurring in the area. Gold was first discovered in Colorado near Denver in 1858. The fortunate few “forty-niners” who found gold nuggets and dust needed help processing their gold. Either they would have to carry around small pouches filled with gold dust and make purchases with pinches of dust, or they would have to send their gold back east for processing. Both options were inconvenient and risky.

In 1863, the federal government stepped in and established the Denver Mint as an assay office. The office would check the gold for purity, weigh it, melt it, and then cast the gold into bars. When silver was discovered in Colorado a short time later, the office began processing silver, too.

“The operations of the mint were confined to the melting, refining, assaying, and stamping of the bullion, and the return of the same to the depositors in unparted bars, stamped with the weight and fineness,” notes an excerpt from the Annual Report of the Director of the Mint to the Secretary of the Treasury Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1906.

Today, the Denver Mint manufactures coin dies, stores silver bullion, and mints coins. It produces every denomination of currently circulating coins and manufactures yearly uncirculated coin sets and special commemorative coins, all with the Denver “D” mint mark stamped on the coins to show where they were minted.

The Denver Mint offers six free tours a day, Monday through Thursday.

West Point, NY

The Nation's Newest Mint

Exterior view of the U.S. Mint at West Point in New YorkNot to be confused with the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Mint at West Point was established as a bullion depository in 1938. It was originally built to store silver bullion and thus named, “The Fort Knox of Silver.” The facility produced circulating pennies for 12 years.

In 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.

As both a storage and manufacturing facility, West Point stores silver, gold, and platinum bullion, and mints American Eagle proof and uncirculated coins in gold, silver, and platinum, American Buffalo gold bullion coins, and commemorative coins as authorized by Congress.

U.S. Money Reserve Supports the Mint's Mission

“The mission of the Mint is to serve the American people by manufacturing and distributing circulating, precious metal and collectible coins and national medals, and providing security over assets entrusted to us.”

U.S. Money Reserve is honored to support the U.S. Mint's mission and be the only gold company led by a former U.S. Mint Director. Philip N. Diehl serves as President of U.S. Money Reserve, and has since 2014. Previously, he was appointed the 35th Director of the United States Mint and the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Treasury Department. Diehl is a respected authority on precious metal ownership and is one of America’s most influential luminaries.

Diehl commented on the impact of the U.S. Mint by saying, “I believe the Mint’s role in our nation’s history is best captured in a celebrated photograph I recently saw of the San Francisco Mint, one of the few buildings to survive the 1906 earthquake and fire. In peacetime and war, good times and hard times, the United States Mint has remained a bulwark of our democracy and economy. I am honored to have played a role in this enduring legacy…and I am proud of our heritage, grateful for our liberty, and confident in our gold.”

With U.S. Money Reserve resources and expertise on your side, you can buy gold and silver coins minted in the United States, maybe even in your state! Call 1-844-307-1589 to buy American gold and silver coins today!


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