Investors and collectors take lots of time to make sure their considered pieces are of the highest quality, but few consider the effort and processes that go into creating the coin in their hand.
Mints across the world produce millions and millions of coins on a daily basis, and each is a miniature work of art requiring numerous steps to reach its final form. Here, we will take a look at how metal becomes a coin through every step of the coin-making process.
It Begins as Metal
All coins begin with some sort of precious metal or cheaper alloy depending on the coin’s overall value and whether or not it is intended to be circulated. That being said, the coin’s metal must first be melted in order to be turned into a coin.
Gold, silver, and copper are typically melted between 1700 and 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas other metals, like nickel, require higher temperatures. Once the metal has been melted, it is then formed into long strips. These strips, for the United States Mint, tend to be around 13 inches wide and can be up to 1,500 feet in length.
The long strips of metal are used to make blanks. They are fed into a blanking press which punches out the blanks. Blanks are round pieces of metal without any designs on either the front or back. They will eventually be pressed with a design and made into coinage while the leftover bits from blanking are melted down again and recycled into more coins.
After the blanks are created, they must be heated in an annealing furnace to soften them up for striking. Once heated, the blanks are washed and dried to give them a shinier look.
Riddling and Upsetting
The shiny blanks are then put into a “riddler”. The riddler separates coin blanks that do not meet the size or shape requirements for their respective coin. After this step, coin blanks that pass the riddler go through an upsetting mill. This mill raises the rim of the blanks in preparation for striking.
Designing and Casting Dies
Both the obverse and reverse side of every produced coin requires a die, and those dies take ample work to finalize.
Firstly, designs for all coins, whether tender or collector’s coins, must be approved by a mint’s officials before a die of the design can be made for coin production. Once a design is approved, the artist has a choice of refining the design’s details in plaster or by use of computers. If an artist chooses plaster, a large plaster round is used to take a close look at all of the design’s details. Once complete, a computer scan is done on the plaster round to create a digital 3D model.
Digitally, all final designs are reduced to the appropriate scale of the final coin. This process requires a high resolution scanner for accuracy. Once completed, the final design is replicated on the end of a piece of steel which is known as the “master hub”. A die, or the negative of the design, is created from this master hub image. From the master die, numerous other working dies are then created.
When cleaned blanks are ready to go into the coining press for striking, each blank is placed between two dies: one for the obverse and one for the reverse side of the coin. The negative dies create a positive image on each side of the coin.
Circulated coins, like those used as currency, are only struck once on each side; collectible coins are often available in double-strike condition, meaning that the coin has been pressed twice for a more detailed image.
Struck coins are thoroughly inspected under a microscope to ensure image quality. Additionally, a sizer is used to remove dented or misshapen coins that have slipped through the cracks.
Counting and Distribution
Coins that have passed inspection are counted automatically by a machine. From there, they go into large bags to be stored in vaults until needed. At that point, they are shipped to Federal Reserve Banks who distribute them to banks all across the country.
Whether you are looking for coins struck in private or sovereign mints, Provident Metals has what you are looking for. Browse our extensive collection of gold and silver bullion, or drop us a message and we will be happy to help you find your next investment piece!