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Making Cents - All the news that's fit to mint! - What's news at the United States Mint!

Welcome to the winter 2002 issue of Making Cents, the online newsletter that tells you what's new and striking at the United States Mint.  Be sure to check back every 3 months for a new issue.

Bluegrass for All

Kentucky State Quarter

You can see a race horse and a mansion on the Kentucky quarter.  It's the fifth and last quarter that was released in 2001.  The Federal Hill Mansion is where Stephen Foster wrote what became the state song, "My Old Kentucky Home."  That title also appears on the quarter that honors Kentucky, "the bluegrass state."

In 1792, Kentucky was the first state to join the Union from what they called "the western frontier."  And it is one of only four states that call themselves "commonwealth."

Kentucky is the home of the country's longest-running annual horse race, the Kentucky Derby, and many race horses have grazed its bluegrass pastures.  And now, through the 50 State Quarters Program, everyone can have a little memento of that famous turf.

Kentucky's First Lady, Judi Patton, led the committee that gathered the design ideas for the coin.  People from across the state sent their ideas to the committee, which picked 12 out of 1,800 entries.  Those 12 were displayed in the Capitol building and on the Internet in June of 1999.  Then more than 50,000 people who lived in Kentucky voted for their favorites.  The designs included "My Old Kentucky Home," a horse with a jockey, Abraham Lincoln's birthplace, and Daniel Boone.  Governor Paul E. Patton chose the final design from those prepared by the Mint's artists.

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Making Change—Installment Three
A Series On How A Coin is Made, From Start To Finish

Installment Three:  Punching Out the Coins

When people first began using money—about 2,500 years ago—coins were little more than lumps of metal stamped with a design.  Eventually, coin makers learned to "cast" coins by pouring melted metal into a mold.  Later on, coins were cut out of metal sheets with shears.

How did people get the coins to come out in perfect circles way back then?  They didn't!  Though many coins were rounded, other shapes were made as well.

Coins Shaped Like Knives

Ancient Chinese money was shaped like hoes, knives...even miniature shirts.  Japanese coins were oblong in the 16th and 17th centuries.  And about a hundred years later, people in Sweden paid for things with huge copper rectangles that measured up to 2 feet long and weighed 45 pounds!

A big roll of metal being fed into a blanking press.

Metal Strips Longer Than Football Fields

Today, machines called blanking presses punch U.S. coins out of strips of metal that are about 13 inches wide and 1,500 feet long—five times as long as a football field.  The round disks that are punched out are called "planchets" or "blanks."

A Wash and Dry Cycle

The blanks are then heated and softened in a furnace called an "annealer."  Next, they are run through a washer and dryer.  What happens next?  Check the next volume of Making Cents to see!

Next Installment:  Striking the Blanks

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Young Collectors-Installment Three
A How-To Series on Coin Collecting

Installment Three:  Storing Your Collection

Once you have a coin collection, what's the best way to store and take care of your coins?

Hands Off!

Before you store them, make sure your coins are clean.  Wash your hands before you touch them, and don't eat or drink while handling them.  In fact, you should never touch the front or back of the coins with your fingers at all.  Why?  Because skin has oil on it and fingers leave prints, which can ruin the surface over time.  The right way to hold a coin is by its edges, between your fingertips.

Wash with Care

Inspector Collector

If you do get your coins dirty, be very careful about cleaning them.  Never ever use a brush, harsh soap, or other rough cleanser that will scratch and wear away the metal. Use mild soap and water, then pat the coins dry with a soft towel. If a coin is discolored, don't try to change it. Old coins often have slightly different colors on them.

Prevent Green Slime

To keep your coins clean, store them properly.  Here's how.

Start by buying coin holders.  You can use small paper envelopes or plastic "sleeves."  But if you do use plastic, make sure it's the kind made for coins.  Plastic bags made of PVC—the kind that's so good for storing food—can coat your coins with green, sticky slime.

You can also store coins in fold-out albums or plastic coin trays.  All of these supplies can be bought in a coin store or hobby shop.

Next installment:  Where to Get Coins

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Free Animated Screensaver!

Want to add some animated fun to your computer?  Go to the United States Mint's H.I.P. Pocket Change "Cartoons" section and download our cool new screensaver.  You'll never have a dull moment on screen again!  See the antics of Bill, Goldie, and all the other H.I.P. Pocket Change Pals and hear Flip's jolly bark and the jingle of falling coins.  Be sure to tell your teacher about it too, so the Pals can liven up your school computer.

h.i.p. pocket change Screensavers

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Olympic Metals

2002 Olympic Winter Games Commemorative Gold Coin
2002 Olympic Winter Games Commemorative Silver Coin
Teacher Feature

Gold and silver, the metals of first—and second—place medals in the Olympic Games, are also the metals of two new commemorative coins.  The United States Mint will produce these coins to commemorate the 2002 Winter Olympics, taking place in Salt Lake City.  The gold $5 coin and the silver $1 coin show symbols of the Games and scenery from the host city.

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Davy Crockett Would Be Proud

Teacher Feature

Davy Crockett—Tennessee frontiersman, congressman, and defender of Texas' independence from Mexico—would be proud of the new Tennessee quarter, released in January.  It shows three stars that stand for the state's three areas, and three musical instruments for the state's three most popular kinds of music.

Tennessee State Quarter

A fiddle stands for the bluegrass music of the mountains of east Tennessee. A guitar stands for the country music of central Tennessee, where Nashville is.  A trumpet stands for the blues of west Tennessee and the city of Memphis.

People from all over Tennessee entered a contest to design the coin.  After Mint artists worked on some of the ideas that people sent in, Governor Don Sundquist chose the "Musical Heritage" design for the new quarter.

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