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United States Mint
Returning to 4th and Race Streets, go around the corner to the 5th Street entrance of the United States Mint. The first Mint was erected in 1792, and the first coins were silver half-dimes made by hand from silver plate belonging to President Washington himself. The following year copper cents and half-cents were manufactured for public use. The Mint tour is self-guided and fascinating to take. Walking along a gallery, one can look down at the various operations taking place. The larger presses stamp out 600 coins per minute, the smaller 300, and one blow of the press strikes the obverse and reverse designs plus any design on the edge.
The museum area contains cases of medals and coins (United States and foreign) and the first coining press of 1792 on which the coins were laboriously struck by a screw press. A Pyx is also on display. A locked box with one or more slots on top, the Pyx was for coiners who were required to place randomly selected coins in it as they were produced. The Pyx was then opened only in the presence of the committee to test the coinage. This particular 18th century Pyx was donated by the Master of the Netherlands Mint.