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Berlin, Day Two
February 04, 2008

Day two in Berlin brought an extraordinary tour of the Berlin Mint, courtesy of Michael Wieneke, of the Ministry of Finance. We met first with Gerd-Wolfgang Radusch of Mint Quality Management, who escorted us to the office of Mint Director Dr. Andreas Schikora. We had a wonderful chat and were able to do some filming with Dr. Schikora for a later internet broadcast.

Afterwards, Mr. Radusch took us on an all access tour of the mint. We were able to see all working areas of the mint from die cutting to coin striking, from quality control to packaging. I had the time of my life and was able to take pictures and ask questions to my hearts delight. I even overheard one of my co-workers discussing my enthusiasm with Radusch. His response was positive, so I don't think I wore out my welcome. A slide show presentation of some of our photos from our tour can be viewed on NumisMaster, so please stop over and take a look.

The Berlin Mint is housed in a building which used to be a glass factory and the light airy feeling posed a stark contrast to other mints that fellow visitor Dave Harper and I had toured in the past. This open appearance aids the mint on keeping security high, there really is no unseen spot within the building.

We were able to talk with many mint personnel, all of whom were very pleasant in answering our questions and explaining their functions at the mint. In the die cutting area we learned quite a bit about modern computer use in transferring data from plaster cast to automated die cutting equipment. We watched die polishers and engravers do the finest of detail work, saw proof coins being struck and observed the quality control staff in action. But the most fun for me was touring through the main floor where the circulation coins are struck. Those machines are so high precision, so very fast and efficient. We caught coins coming out of the ejectors and they were quite warm, which makes sense, though I had never before given it a moments thought.

After a stop in the rolling and packaging area and the mechanics work room, Radusch was kind enough to bring us through some collection displays, including displays of coins struck at the old DDR Berlin Mint. Some interesting things turned up in those cases, which I'll cover at a later time, as the bourse is closing for the night.

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About the Author
Tom Michael has been Krause Publications primary market analyst on more than 80 world and United States coin catalogs produced over the last 20 years. He came to KP in 1987 with a bachelor of arts degree in history, a master of arts degree in economics and a history of coin collecting stretching back to the 1960s. He began collecting world coins as a child by asking friends and relatives to bring coins back from overseas trips, visiting flea markets and having his mother watch for foreign coins in her register at the local grocery store. Today he works with a dedicated base of over 200 contributors to provide accurate market values for the five-volume Standard Catalog of World Coins series, as well as many specialty catalogs, including Coins & Currency of the Middle East and the fifth edition of Unusual World Coins.

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