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Welcome to West Point: Looking Back at the U.S. Mint’s Most Recent Branch

2021-03-29 16:19:00
Welcome to West Point: Looking Back at the U.S. Mint’s Most Recent Branch
Posted in: News, News

Welcome to West Point: Looking Back at the U.S. Mint’s Most Recent Branch

Though the West Point Mint is now the United States’ primary bullion coin manufacturer, this was not always the case. In fact, it wasn’t until decades after West Point opened its doors that it began striking coins.

Erected in 1937 near the United States Military Academy at West Point, the Mint facility was originally named the West Point Bullion Depository. Since it was a storage space for silver bullion, and at one time held the highest concentration of silver at any U.S. Mint facility, it was nicknamed “The Fort Knox of Silver.” During World War II, West Point’s silver supply proved incredibly helpful, as much of it was lent to England, France, and other allied nations under the Lend-Lease Program. This piece of legislation not only provided allied nations with the necessary military equipment to fight fascism, but also gave the United States access to strategic naval base locations around the world.

In the 1970s, to help lighten the load of the other U.S. Mint branches, West Point began striking coins for circulation. From 1974 to 1986, it struck Lincoln Cents that bore no mintmark, making them indistinguishable from cents struck at the Philadelphia Mint. Additionally, the depository struck Washington Quarters from 1977 to 1979 that bore no mintmark as well.

After over a decade of striking coins anonymously, the West Point Bullion Depository finally got its opportunity to leave its mark on a piece of coinage in 1983. To celebrate the 1984 Olympics held in Los Angeles, West Point released a commemorative coin that boasted the first-ever “W” mintmark. The obverse of this iconic coin is truly breathtaking, as it depicts the Olympic rings and a male and female runner, running side by side and hoisting a lit torch. The coin’s reverse displays a heraldic eagle spreading its wings under thirteen stars and clutching an olive branch and bundle of arrows in its talons. With such a beautiful design, this coin certainly lived up to the massive expectations of being both the first “W” mintmark coin and the first American gold coin struck since 1933.

In addition to the 1984 Olympics commemorative gold coins, West Point also began producing gold medals in the 1980s. At one point, the Depository held roughly $20 billion worth of gold, which made it second to only Fort Knox in gold storage.

On March 31, 1988, after decades of coin production, the West Point Bullion Depository officially had its name changed to the West Point Mint. Once granted Mint status, it earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places.

Seven years later, West Point made history by striking its very first American Silver Eagle, a proof coin struck for a set commemorating the 10th anniversary of the American Eagle program. With only 30,125 coins struck, the 1995-W Proof Silver Eagle is by far the most highly sought-after key date of the American Silver Eagle series. West Point’s Silver Eagle production didn’t stop there, though, as just six years later in 2001 it became the primary production site of all proof Silver Eagles, which it remains to this day.

From the 1984-W Olympics Torch Bearers commemorative gold coin to the 2021-W Proof American Silver Eagle, the West Point Mint has struck some of the most monumental coins in U.S. history. Be sure to check out Rare Collectibles TV’s extensive selection of “W” mintmark American Silver Eagles!