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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 spring 2006 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.

Challenging Change in 1863

Image shows Peter beside a clerk and a customer inspecting her change.

Get ready, time travelers!  In the latest adventure of Time Machine, you and Peter the Mint Eagle travel to 1863 Boston to solve a coin mystery.  There you'll meet a young mother whose husband has joined the Union Army.

Even during times of war, families at home still need to buy things like bread and thread at the store.  But what if the store can't give you change?  That may not be likely to happen today, but during the Civil War it happened all too often.

Just to make a simple purchase, this Boston mother has to choose from among different kinds of change she has never used before—including a cent that is not a cent!  Find out what she chooses and how her purchase solves Peter's coin mystery at Time Machine.

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A Birthday and a Time Capsule

The United States Mint at Denver celebrated what it called "100 Years of Change" on February 1, 2006.  It was on February 1, 1906, when the current building opened and struck its first coins using three coining presses.  Denver's Mayor Hickenlooper proclaimed the day to be "United States Mint at Denver Day."

Time Capsule

Image shows the words Time Capsule over a photo of the coin set, framed proclamation, circular plaque, and stone block with a hole to hold the capsule.

During the celebration, the Acting Director of the United States Mint and the Plant Manager at the Denver facility introduced a time capsule to the audience.  The capsule is designed so that, on February 1 of the year 2106, workers at the Denver plant will take the capsule from its stone block inside the building and open it.

The time capsule contains a set of 2006 uncirculated coins minted in Denver and a scroll signed by every employee who now works there.  Here's what the scroll says:

Greetings from the past.  On February 1, of the year 2006, the Employees of the United States Mint at Denver celebrated the first one hundred years of coin manufacturing at the facility.  We hope that on this day, February 1, of the year 2106, the current Employees of this historic facility are still experiencing the joy and prosperity of working here as we did.

The time capsule also contains a Mayoral Proclamation, which notes special things the facility has done.  The United States Mint at Denver:

  • Holds a world record for making more than 15 billion circulating coins in one year.
  • Is one of the places in Denver that tourists most like to visit.
  • Is the oldest United States Mint facility that still makes coins.
  • Has an outstanding safety record.

Not only has the Mint at Denver produced change, but the facility itself has seen great change as well.  For example, there have been seven additions to the current building, including one in 1996 in which dies can be made.

There has also been change in the facility's output.  During its entire first year in 1906, the facility struck about 167 million gold and silver coins.  Sure, 167 million coins in a year is a lot, but today, the facility strikes nearly that many coins in a week, or about 30 million coins a day!  That adds up to nearly eight billion coins per year.  (This year, the facility gets to make the quarter for its own state, Colorado, as part of the 50 State Quarters® Program.)

A Hint of the History

When the Denver Mint strikes coins, it creates a little bit of history every day.  But the facility itself is also rich in history.

The story begins in 1858 when gold was discovered in the wilderness of Colorado.  Within a few years, many people moved to Colorado with dreams of riches, the city of Denver was founded, and the United States government opened an assay office where the raw gold and silver ore could be tested, weighed, and made into bars or coins.

Image shows today's facility at Denver.
The United States Mint in Denver

By 1895, the assay office was bringing in more than $5.6 million in gold and silver every year and, in 1904, the government changed the assay office into a Mint facility.  Since a lot more space was needed, a new, grander building was erected.  It opened in 1906, creating one of Colorado's oldest institutions and favorite historic sites.

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Know Your Money

Image shows a collage of Financial Literacy activities behind the words Financial Literacy.

You may know that "literacy" is the ability to read.  Without literacy, you couldn't read Making Cents! But there is also something called "financial literacy."  That term may sound like it means "the ability to read money," but that's not quite right.  It actually has to do with knowing about money.

If you aren't financially literate, then money is kind of a mystery to you.  You don't know much about how it works and how to use it wisely.  So financial literacy is important enough to have its own month, and that month is April.

H.I.P. Pocket Change has set up a page where our best financial literacy tools (in the form of games and activities) are listed for you.  You can usually only get to the Financial Literacy page during April, but as a special Making Cents exclusive, you can get there any time from this Financial Literacy page link.  Check out the features collected there and watch your financial literacy soar!

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Quarter of the Quarter:  Nebraska

Image shows Nero beside a Nebraska quarter.

An ox-drawn covered wagon moves pioneers westward on the new Nebraska quarter.  The settlers are passing the famous landmark known as Chimney Rock, so they know they're on the right trail.  Nebraska followed Nevada into the Union in 1867.  You can read lots more about this quarter's quarter in the "Coins Are Coming" section of Coin News, and even more when Nero presents it as May's Coin of the Month.  Read all about it!

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Spring 2006 Crossword

Hope you've enjoyed reading Making Cents!  Click to see and print out the crossword puzzle, which uses words from all the articles in this issue.  This will test your memory, but if you need clues, go back to the articles.  Most of the words in the puzzle were in this issue.

Check your answers with the answer key.

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