A new coining press was to be installed at the Philadelphia Mint March 1 for the purpose of striking the new 5-ounce America the Beautiful silver coins that will be the companion pieces to the 56 circulating quarters to be released starting in April of this year and running at a rate of five designs per year until 2021.
The Mint purchased the press for an undisclosed sum from the German firm of Gräbener Pressensysteme GmbH & Co. KG in order to better handle the requirements of striking the new coins. These coins will have a very large 3-inch diameter.
For comparison, the old Morgan silver dollar is just 1.5 inches in diameter.
The new press will be able to apply up to 1,000 tons of pressure for each strike. The larger a coin, the more pressure is required to make the coin strike up properly.
When production begins, Sunshine Minting will supply the .999 fine silver blanks.
The 5-ounce coins will have the same finish as the current American Eagle silver bullion coins. The numbers struck will be determined by public demand. However, the press will be able to handle production at a rate in excess of 1 million coins per year.
Tom Jurkowsky, head of Mint public relations, said he did not expect a release date for the new silver coins before late summer or early autumn.
Mint technicians spent three days in Germany in December putting the press through its paces. In the process they struck 90 test pieces with nonsense designs of Martha Washington on one side and the reverse was taken from the reverse of the Ronald Reagan Presidential medal. The test pieces will be destroyed.
More testing of the press will be required once it is set up in Philadelphia.