The Philadelphia Mint
The Royal Canadian Mint, British Royal Mint, Pobjoy Mint, Franklin Mint, Royal Australian Mint, Valcambi Mint, Italian State Mint and others have one thing in common which is different from the U.S. Mint--each of them strikes coins under contract for foreign countries.
The U.S. Mint last produced coins for a foreign country in 1984. Since that Time, our Mint has struck coins exclusively for the United States. This, in turn, paved the way for many foreign Mints to chase down these lucrative foreign coin contracts. The BRM is probably has the most foreign coin contracts of any of them.
Now it appears this may all change once again. Legislation is pending authorizing the U.S. Mint to strike commemorative coins honoring explorer Leif Ericson, both for the United States and for Iceland. Who knows if this may encourage the U.S. Mint to once again actively solicit foreign coin production contracts, but it is a start.
Many people don’t realize it, but due to the expense many countries do not own their own facilities to produce their coinage or their bank notes. Those countries that have these facilities routinely solicit the countries that do not, making a profit from this production.
In addition to government Mints and security printing facilities, there are a number of privately owned mints and security printing facilities that also solicit nations for contracts to produce their currency for them. The Pobjoy Mint in the United Kingdom is probably the largest private mint in operation today. The firm of Thomas de la Rue and others are privately-owned security printing facilities that print stocks, bonds, negotiable instruments and bank notes for many countries.
The U.S. Mint got into the foreign-coin-producing business in 1855, but did not have official authority to do so until The Mint Act of Jan. 29, 1874 was approved. There is no current legislation forbidding the U.S. Mint to produce foreign coins. Demand for U.S. coins has been so great since 1984 that the Mint has not had the resources to strike coins for other governments. Since that date, the Mint has been taxed with a significant number of commemorative and precious metal bullion coins to be produced.
In the past the United States has struck coins for Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Belgian Congo, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji, France, French Indo-China, Greenland, Guatemala, Hawaii, Honduras, Israel, Liberia, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, Netherlands East Indies, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, El Salvador, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Surinam, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand and Venezuela.
Information regarding paper money printing activities for foreign governments is more difficult to identify than are the coining activities of Mints. Many security printing organizations do not make public what they do or for whom they do it.
The U.S. Mint, like other Mints of today, actively pursued foreign coin production contracts from 1875 forward. The activities regarding foreign coin production by the U.S. Mint are chronicled in the annual Mint reports. Many of the Mints around the world now striking coins for other countries identify the countries for whom they strike in their annual reports. Unlike the earlier U.S. Mint reports, many of these foreign Mints do not identify the number of foreign coins produced.
Not all U.S. Mint-struck foreign coins carry U.S. Mint marks. Probably the best-known foreign struck coins carrying U.S. Mint marks are the early 20th century coins of the Philippines. The Manila Mint was opened in 1920 as a branch Mint of the United States. As such, its production figures are published in the contemporary U.S. Mint annual reports.
Richard Giedroyc is a numismatic writer, researcher, auction cataloger and coin dealer. He has been in the hobby and business most of his life, now having more than three decades experience in this fascinating hobby field. During this time Giedroyc has been the owner of Paris Bergman Galleries, owner of Classical Coin Newsletter, international editor of Coin World and owner of Giedroyc-Anderson Interesting World Coins. He is currently a numismatic consultant. He has written more than 2,000 byline numismatic stories and contributed to several coin catalogs.