When people consider how coins are made, large machines and noisy factories come to mind. There isn’t just one machine that can produce and pop out a finished coin – there’s a lot to this process. After all, a coin is pretty much a piece of art. Currently, coins are made in Fort Knox KY, Denver CO, Washington DC, West Point NY, Philadelphia PA, and San Francisco CA. Over 23 million U.S. coins were produced in 2013. Want to know more about the coin production process? Read below.
Step 1 – Blanking
Picture an extremely long sheet of metal getting fed into a machine. These sheets are about a foot wide. The machine then punches out the circular shape of the coin. Of course, that leaves a lot of extra, unused metal. It gets recycled.
Step 2 – Annealing & Washing
After the coins are cut into circular shape, they get heated, then washed and polished in chemicals. At this step, they are called “planchets.” By definition, a planchet is a metal disk to be stamped as a coin.
Step 3 – Edge Rolling
Coins get their edges and thickness in what is called the “upsetting” process. This also makes the edges smoother. If this process didn’t exist, your coins would probably cut you when you reached in your pockets!
Step 4 – Striking/Stamping
This is the step that most people are familiar with. The coins get pressed with a stamp/design. This basically makes the coin official U.S. tender. The machines don’t press one coin at a time though. It’s usually 2 or 4 at a time. It’s also at this stage where most coins get their ridges on the edge.
Step 5 – Inspecting/Counting/Bagging
This step is pretty self-explanatory. The machine operators literally take out a magnifying glass and inspect the coins. The coins are then automatically counted and bagged, and later shipped to the banks. Pretty cool process, right?
Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on Google+.