On April 2, 1792, President George Washington signed the Coinage Act of 1792 into law, giving birth to the United States Mint. David Rittenhouse was appointed as the first director of the Mint whose first job was to build or purchase the first government owned building.

The Coinage Act of 1792 set the basis of US coins to be the dollar that would be on par with the Spanish Milled Dollar. It established gold coins for the Eagle (ten dollars), Half Eagles, and Quarter Eagles. The half dollar, quarter dollar, dismes, and half dismes were to be struck in silver while the cent and half cent would be struck in copper.

The law outlines how the Mint operates in order to preserve its integrity and sets the basis for making debasement (such as shaving the metals from the edge) and counterfeiting illegal acts. Over the years, we learned that the laws required for self oversight was akin to the foxes guarding the hen house.

From good economic times to bad politics, the US Mint has been working for 216 years to meed the demands for circulating coinage while creating objects that drive the passion of numismatists.

Let’s raise a cheer and wish the US Mint a Happy Birthday!

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