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San Francisco Mint tour an eye-opener

Technically, the San Francisco Mint is a factory. It manufactures coins. And it’s really good at producing silver coins. Silver proof coins. The kind collectors want to buy.

I was given the opportunity to join a San Francisco Mint tour for journalists on May 15. It was being held in conjunction with the Mint’s 75th anniversary. But I had a scheduling conflict, so the Mint folks were nice enough to show me around all by myself the following day. I kind of liked that.

It gave me the opportunity to talk with the folks who mint some of our most beautiful coins. Of special interest were the American eagle silver reverse proof coins that will be part of a special set that goes on sale June 7.

There was so much pride among the employees who handled them, from the quality control department ensuring that the blanks were the proper weight to the press operators checking each coin before it was sent for packaging.

My favorite part of the tour was seeing the American eagle silver reverse proof dies take shape. It is an art, and a true combination of skill and technology.

While the folks at the San Francisco Mint (and many of us around the Numismatic News office) call the it the 75th anniversary set, the official name is the 2012 American Eagle San Francisco Two-Coin Silver Proof Set. It contains one American Eagle silver proof coin and one American Eagle silver reverse proof coin.

The set is being minted to demand. Orders will be taken from noon June 7 until 5 p.m. July 5. During that time the sales will be tracked on a “sales odometer” placed on the U.S. Mint’s website. That way the public will know how many sets are being ordered.

I can tell you what I’ll be doing on my lunch hour June 7. I’ll be placing an order for the 75th anniversary set. Trust me. It’s stunning. And now that I’ve gotten to know some of the people who are making it happen, I want one even more.