The Story of
the Coin Press

Pressing On...

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The United States Mint introduced steam powered rolling, drawing and planchet cutting machinery during the years 1806-1824, but continued to strike coins with screw presses.

When Robert Maskell Patterson was director of the U.S. Mint from 1835 to 1851 he asked Franklin Peale to make a model of a steam powered coining press. Peale had seen steam powered coining presses used in France and in Germany and based his model on what he had seen there. At the time it took three men to operate the large screw presses in use at the U.S. Mint. Director Patterson felt sure that one man could operate two of the new steam powered coin presses.

In March of 1836 a steam powered coining press, imported from France, was put to work in the United States Mint. Power to turn the press was supplied by a belt from the steam engine. It had a capacity of 100 coins a minute.

In 1837 Director Patterson reported to President Andrew Jackson that the workmen at the Mint were now busy building more steam powered presses which were expected to replace some of the human labor needed to operate the older screw presses. He stated: ""On the 23rd of March last (1836), the first steam coinage in America was executed at this Mint; and the performance of the press, in which the power of the lever is substituted for that of the screw, has answered all our expectations." You can learn more about how the lever and the screw make work easier by reading Spotlight on Simple Machines from the Franklin Institute of Science Museum.