By Greg Argos
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There is a better than 50 percent chance the coins in your pocket are made right here at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia.
“People don’t realize how much work goes into it. They think we press a couple of buttons or something and it’s all done,”
And we learned Thursday, that’s obviously not the case.
First there is the design of each coin and then the sculpting by six Philly based medallic artists.
“I’m a traditional sculptor, so I work in clay and plaster,” said Phebe Hemphill. “This is the Harper’s Ferry American the Beautiful Quarter from West Virginia,” she said as she showed the design. “The sculpting process involves laying it out in clay and then going into a negative plaster first and this positive plaster is creative from the negative.”
“Generally a design can take me a few hours or a week,” said Don Everhart, the Lead Sculptor. “We are the only coin sculptors for the entire government. We’re all located here in Philadelphia.”
There are more than one million coins made per hour at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia and it is so loud inside that hearing protection must be worn on the floor.
Then, it’s onto the floor where sheets of metal are stamped into disks. Then, it’s on to the press where 60 tons of pressure, the equivalent of 20 elephants standing on a quarter, presses the actual design into the metal.
Then the coins are inspected, bagged and sent off to Federal Reserve Banks. Collector coins are kept at the mint and can be purchased directly.
“When I first started working here, I got my Nevada quarter in change,” Everhart said. “I said to the vendor, you know, I designed this. And he said, yeah sure kid.”