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Close Denver Mint?
February 19, 2010

With coin demand at what seems to be a new permanent low plateau of around three billion pieces a year, the U.S. Mint faces the choice of what to do with all of its production capacity and employees.

Is it time to do the unthinkable and close the Denver Mint?

Philadelphia alone can produce more than enough coins to keep an adequate supply going under present conditions.

That, of course, is the key phrase: present conditions.

Can anybody now envision any circumstances where coin demand will once again run over 25 billion pieces as it did in 2000 and require multiple shifts to get all of the work done?

Under those high-coin-demand circumstances, retaining the two minting facilities would be crucial.

Those who remember the story of the closure of the San Francisco Mint in 1955 might use it as an object lesson as to what happens when capacity is eliminated. A decade later there was a national coin shortage. It was put back to work.

Should the whole Mint operation be restructured? Close Philadelphia, too, after building a state-of-the-art minting facility in a large open area where Interstate highways come together. The new plant could be scalable to rapidly increase production should higher demand ever arise.

Barring such radical changes, should the Mint jump into the international scrum and look for coin striking business from other countries as it used to do but hasn’t for many years?

Or will the Mint sit at the present default position with many underused presses and employees without tasks to perform?

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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