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San Francisco first branch to mint minors

Do you know the date when the first branch mint minor coin was struck?

The striking of minor coins was limited by law to the Philadelphia Mint. To meet the expanding need for minor coins, striking at the branch mints was authorized in 1905. With all due speed, the first strike was Nov. 27, 1908, at San Francisco. Only 1.1 million Indian Head cents were struck before the end of the year. Nickel production didn’t start at the branch mints until 1912.

Didn’t a Mint official once make a flat statement that no more dollars would ever be produced?

Mint Director George E. Roberts on June 30, 1904, said: “There will never be another silver dollar minted in this country.”

How did the Mint count its coins before the invention of mechanical counting machines?

Mechanical counting machines were not introduced at the Mint until sometime after the turn of the 20th century. Before that it was strictly a hand-counting job, with the help of what was called a counting board. This was a flat board made for each denomination with copper partitions separated by the diameter of the coin. The boards were designed so that when each row was filled, the total would be some even amount.


I  know that some of the coin presses now in use in the various mints are capable of striking two or four coins at a time. Do you have any information on when the Mint began using this kind of press?

The dual coin press is mentioned in the 1945 Annual Report of the Director of the Mint, crediting Supt. of Coining Joseph Steel and machinist William P. Kruse of the San Francisco Mint as the creators of the attachment that was added to the old single coin presses.


An old book on the U.S. Mint mentions the job of “whitener.” What did a whitener do?

The whitener was the wash “lady” of the old mint, and actually the job still is performed in today’s minting operations. The whitener washed the planchets in a solution of borax, soap and water to remove the grease and dirt from the planchets, brightening them up for striking. The job also involved cleaning silver planchets with sulfuric acid to remove tarnish before striking. This also leached some of the copper, leaving the surface a higher percentage of silver, thus whiter.

Address questions to Coin Clinic, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Because of space limitations, we are unable to publish all questions. Include a loose 42-cent stamp for reply. Write first for specific mailing instructions before submitting numismatic material. We cannot accept unsolicited items. E-mail inquiries should be sent to Answerman2@aol.com.

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