Financial History Issue 121 (Spring 2017) - Page 33

Mint. It became apparent that the Pacific Northwest needed an assay office, and possibly a mint. A US Senator from Ore- gon proposed building one in Portland, but the US Congress  —  pre-occupied with the Civil War — did not act on that recommendation. Two years later, Congress authorized the construction of a mint to produce coins and ingots, but it proposed locating it in Dalles City instead of Portland. The city has since been renamed “The City of the Dalles.” Sectional bickering and bureaucratic inertia interfered with plans to begin construction during the next two years. The planning and initial construc- tion work on the Carson City branch mint also caused some officials to question the need for the Dalles facility. Construction finally began in 1869, but the waning of the gold rush, the opening of the Central Pacific Railroad and the operation of the Carson City Mint combined to obviate the need for the Dalles Mint. The building has since been put to a variety of uses by a succession of private owners. The complex story of the United States taking possession of the Philippines in 1902 is not relevant to this story. What is relevant is the unusual decision to have a US Mint produce coinage for the inhabitants of that territory. A facility in Manila had been producing various cen- tavo denominations of silver coins since 1861. In 1903, both the San Francisco and Philadelphia Mints began producing circulating coins and proof sets for the Philippines. In 1920, the US government decided to establish the Manila Mint as an official branch of the US Mint, making it the first and only branch ever located outside the United States. It produced all coinage for the Philippines until 1922 and again from 1925 to 1941. The San Francisco, Philadelphia and Denver Mints produced the Islands’ coinage for a brief time near the end of World War II, before the United States granted the nation full independence in July 1946. The most recently-established and highly-specialized US Mint facility was completed in 1938 near the US military academy in West Point, New York. For more than 30 years, it was primarily used as a storage facility for silver bullion. It was a companion facility to the gold repository built in 1936 at Fort Knox, Kentucky. From 1973 to 1986, the West Pont Mint produced pennies to reduce the produc- tion pressure on other facilities. Using modern equipment, it also produced bicentennial quarters in 1976 and gold medals in 1980. In 1988, the government granted it official status as a branch mint. The West Point Mint is still used as a stor- age facility, but it also produces a variety of commemorative gold and silver coins, as well as other proof and uncirculated products.  Michael A. Martorelli, CFA is a Director at Fairmount Partners in West Con- shohocken, Pennsylvania, and a frequent contributor to Financial History. He earned his MA in History from American Military University. www.MoAF.org  |  Spring 2017  |  FINANCIAL HISTORY  31