The Story of
the Coin Press

Pressing On...

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Before the introduction of the steam powered coining press in 1836, coins in the United States of America were made on screw presses. Men and animals provided the energy. In the nation's very early years oxen and horses helped operate the presses. Later on the power came from men alone.

It took three (or more) men to operate a screw press, some on each end of a weighted iron bar and another man seated in front of the press. The seated man would insert planchets and remove the finished coins. The other men would tug on leather straps attached to the iron bar. The bar was attached to a heavy iron screw which drove an upper die down towards a lower one when the men on one side of the bar pulled it towards them. Then, when the men on the other side tugged on the bar, the screw and upper die were raised and the seated man would remove the finished coin. A good team of coiners could turn out several dozen small coins per minute.