3d Congress.
No. 81
2d Session.


Communicated to the House of Representatives, February 9, 1795.

Mr. Boudinot, from the Committee appointed to examine and report on the state of do, mint, and what further measures are necessary to render the institution more beneficial, made the following report:

That, having attended at the several departments of the mint, and carefully examined into the present state of the institution, the committee beg leave to make a statement of the effect of their inquiries, under the following heads:

1st.    The officers of the institution, and their actual duties.
2d. The present state and progress of the works.
3d. The expense attending the institution to this time.
4th. The improvements yet necessary to render the institution beneficial to the United States.
5th. The stock now on hand.
6th. The quantity of coin that may be produced when the works are complete.
7th. The keeping of the accounts, with the checks necessary to prevent peculation.

1st. As to the Officers of the Mint, and their actual duties.

The Director, whose duties, besides those contained in the act instituting the mint, are the general superintendence of the whole business, in all its various departments, the making or approving of all contracts and purchases, relative to the institution, determining on the expediency of all improvements, buildings, machines, and whatever may be thought necessary for promoting the utility of the mint, and lastly, to inspect all receipts and issues of the mint, with the accounts of the expenditure, and to draw warrants for the same.

The Assayer. He assays all metals brought to the mint, and reports their respective qualities to the treasurer, for his direction. He attends and inspects the melter and refiner, and has charge of the bullion, jointly with the treasurer and chief coiner. He has, hitherto, also had the care of the melting and refining all the precious metals that have come to the mint.

The Chief Coiner prepares all the necessary machines, belonging to the different branches of coining the several metals directed by law; works all the ingots, received from the melter and refiner, into a proper state for coining, and, when completed, delivers them over to the treasurer, and lastly, oversees all the different workmen employed in the coinage, and keeps them in their duty.

The Engraver, whose actual duties are the raising and furnishing all punches that are requisite for the completion of the dies, the engraving and sinking all original dies, and raising all hubbs that are struck out of them. He has an assistant, occasionally, as the business is urgent.

The Treasurer, whose duty it is to take charge of all bullion, received or deposited in the mint, for coinage. He delivers it out, as wanted, for working, and receives, in return, all the coins, as they are completed, from the chief coiner. He registers all the qualities of the metals, as reported by the Assayer, and pays out all the coins, when completed, on the warrants of the Secretary of the Treasury and Director, makes all payments on account of the mint, and renders his account every three months to the treasury of the United States.

The Clerks. At present, there are three clerks, one of them performs all writings, relative to the mint, required of him by the director and assayer, makes out all orders of the Director, and keeps regular entries of the same. He keeps an account of all bullion, received and delivered by the assayer, acting in the capacity of refiner, and does such out of door business, for the use of the mint, as is required of him by director or assayer. He also keeps an account of the workmen employed, pays them their wages, and procures the necessary materials.

One other is clerk to the chief coiner, whose duty it is to keep an account how much, and what, metal is received by the chief coiner, from the treasurer, and of the sum returned in coin. He weighs out, daily, the several metals to the proper workmen, and receives it back at night, by weight of which, he keeps the proper entries. He makes out the pay rolls, for the Director’s inspection, on which warrants on the treasurer are issued. He is present at the payment of the workmen, and takes their receipts. He also keeps the accounts of the contingent expenses attending the institution.

The remaining clerk belongs to the treasurer and keeps all accounts relative to his receipts, issues, and expenditures, whether of bullion, coin, or payments. He also weighs the bullion, in the first instance, registers the quantity of alloy, and counts the coin issued from the mint. Each clerk receives a salary of five hundred dollars per annum, except the treasurer’s, who receives from the Director, out of his own salary, an addition of two hundred dollars per annum.

2d. The present state and progress of the works.

The houses are built on three lots of ground, in Seventh street, between Market and Arch streets, the fee simple of which is vested in the United States, and one in the Northern Liberties, taken by the Director, on a lease for five years, at the trifling rent of five shillings per annum.

The works consist of two rolling machines, one for hot and the other for cold metal, worked by four horses, and require five hands constantly to attend them, while in operation. There is a third, nearly completed, to be appropriated to the smaller coinage. A drawing machine for the purpose of equalizing the strips for cutting the planchettes, and are worked by the same hands as are last mentioned. Three cutting presses for the planchettes of larger and smaller coins, which are worked by one man each. A milling machine, which is intended to be worked by the horse mill, but, at present, requires one hand. Three coining presses, with the improvement for supplying and discharging themselves by machinery. Six hands will attend three, if in one room. A fourth, for dollars and medals, in particular, will be finished in about three months. Two turning lathes for dies, and a boring machine for making holes in the large frames, screws for presses, stakes, rollers, and an infinite variety of instruments and tools, necessary to carry on the coinage.

There are, besides three annealing and one boiling furnace, with two forges, the assay, melting, and refining furnaces.

The nett produce of these works, from the establishment of the mint to this time, consists of one million and eighty-seven thousand five hundred cents, paid into the treasury of the United States, equal to ten thousand eight hundred and seventy-five dollars; in silver coins delivered, thirty-five thousand one hundred and sixty-five dollars. The future produce, it is said, will be about two hundred thousand cents per month.

The treasurer has received, in gross silver bullion, from depositors, one hundred and sixteen thousand seven hundred and eighty-three ounces thirteen pennyweights, containing alloy, below the standard of the United States, of twenty-four thousand five hundred and seventy-eight ounces, seven pennyweights.

Your committee have made a strict inquiry into the causes, why the product has not been greater in so long a time as two years and an half from its institution, and find that, in general, the difficulties attending all establishments, that are, in their formation and operation, new and uncommon, and which, therefore, require experiments to be made in every step of their progress, have attended this institution. No works of this kind, requiring equal force and equal precision, ever having been made in this country, workmen, those expected to be obtained from Europe, by some means, having failed in the different branches, were hard to be got, and many, when engaged, were not masters of their business; the materials were difficult to be obtained, and often proved insufficient for the force required — even bar iron, from the large size required, as well as the castings, caused great delay before they could be had; oftentimes, when the machinery was finished and set to work, it gave way, and all was to be done over again. All the tools, necessary to make the machines, were first to be made themselves. Not only the whole machinery, in all its parts, but all the tools necessary for their formation have been executed at the mint. This could not be effected by an union of all the proper artizans, each a complete workman in his own department, but, from necessity, was confined to the principal officer of the coining department, who could only proceed from theoretic principles, with the assistance of such workmen as could be procured, to whom most of the machines, however common in Europe, were entirely new. Add to this, that mere theoretic knowledge has produced greater complexity in the system, and, of course, greater delay and expense than full practical knowledge would have found necessary.

The mints in Europe have been gradual in their improvements, and have been of many years standing. This has had every difficulty to struggle with, and was to be brought to perfection at once, lest our coins should not bear a comparison with those of other nations. Those lately executed are superior to any made in Europe.

The buildings were all to be completed before the works could be begun. The lots on which the same are built, from a principle of economy, were so restricted in size, that they are now found to be much too small and so insufficient as greatly to hinder the several operations, and delay the business. It was also a considerable time before an engraver could be engaged, during which, the chief coiner was obliged to make the dies for himself, and yet the dies are subject to frequent failures by breaking. Great delays have also taken place for want of a refiner and melter, provision for such an office having been wholly omitted in the law instituting the mint, by which, the present stock of copper remains useless and unproductive.

Your committee have been convinced by these facts, as well as from actual observation, that there are substantial reasons exculpatory of the officers of the mint, for the delay attending this undertaking; but they are happy in observing, that most of these difficulties are now surmounted, and the future product of the coinage must be very considerable.

3d. The expense attending the institution has been very great, from the necessity and difficulties above alluded to.

It amounted, on the thirtieth day of September last, to the following sums, including the standing capital, and copper to be coined into money:

Lands purchased, $4,266 66
Buildings, apparatus. machines, &c. 22,720 45
Purchase of copper, 15,815 51
Salaries to officers, 15,591 99
$58,394 61

4th. The improvements yet necessary.

It would be a very important saving to the public, as well as add great expedition to every part of the machinery, if they could be put in motion by water or steam, instead of manual labor, or that of horses. At present, water is out of the question, without removing the works out of the city, to which there are many solid objections; but in case the projected canal, between the Schuylkill and Delaware, should be accomplished, the heavy expense of this institution would be greatly reduced.

It has already been mentioned, as one cause of delay, the omission in the law, of provision for a refiner and melter, whose duty it should be to take charge of all metals delivered out by the treasurer, after they have been assayed and refined, and melt them into bars and ingots fit for the rolling machine, when they are to be delivered over to the chief coiner. This is a necessary and essential improvement. The law originally contemplated the assayer as the only officer necessary in this part of the business.

In the European mints, all metals deposited for coinage, are first brought to the proper standard at the expense of the owner, and by private professional workmen established in that country, independent of the mint, and therefore no such officer belongs to those institutions; but in this country, for want of such a private establishment, it becomes a necessary department of the mint. And, although your committee are of opinion that the assayer might, in point of labor, execute this office, his time not being wholly taken up in his proper department, yet the propriety of positive checks, throughout the whole of the business of the mint, absolutely forbids it. Such an officer must, therefore, be appointed, or the former delays will necessarily accrue. Those would have been greater than they have been, had not the Director employed an occasional workman to assist in that part of the operation.

As it is the practice, in all the mints of Europe, for the owners of bullion to have it refined to the legal standard, at their own expense, your committee are of opinion that a reasonable sum, from every deposite, should be retained by the treasurer of the mint, as a compensation for refining and melting. This will appear the more reasonable when it is known that the bullion, already lodged in the mint, has cost the United States at least five hundred pound for refining.

Your committee further find, that the standard fineness of silver directed by law, in the opinion of the officers of the mint, contains too great an alloy, and will expose the coin to wear black; and, therefore, that the alloy should be reduced.

The English standard of silver coin is eleven ounces two pennyweights of pure silver in the pound Troy.

Spanish coins ought to contain ten ounces fifteen pennyweights.

French crowns, of the late Government, ten ounces seventeen and a half pennyweights.

A mean of both is ten ounces sixteen and a quarter pennyweights.

One tenth part alloy, which is the standard of the present Government of France, established as a mean between both, leaves ten ounces sixteen pennyweights.

But, the standard of the United States is ten ounces fourteen pennyweights, and nineteen one hundred and four parts. This extreme fractional part of our standard for silver, produces great inconvenience, without any advantage, that your committee could discover; and they are, therefore, of opinion, that the mean of ten ounces sixteen pennyweights should be adopted. It has also appeared to your committee that the price of copper is very fluctuating, and may so increase, as, in some degree, it has done since the law for ascertaining the weight of cents, that, when coined and issued, coppersmiths may work them up to considerable advantage. To prevent this growing evil, provision should be made, by law, in time to check it. Great complaints are made throughout the United States, of the difficulty of obtaining cents when coined. The practice, hitherto, in pursuance of the requisition of the law, has been for the treasurer of the mint to pay them over to the treasurer of the United States, who distributes them among the banks in this city. This will produce a supply, in time, for the States in the neighborhood of the mint, but will not give satisfaction to the distant parts of the Union, who pay their equal share of the expense.

Your committee, therefore, are of opinion, that it would be a valuable improvement to make provision, by law, for a more general distribution of the cents as they are coined.

5th. The stock of Metal.

Now on hand, uncoined, amounts to upwards of fifteen tons of copper, most of which requires refining, and the whole melting into ingots, preparative to rolling. There also yet remains about thirty-five thousand five hundred and seven ounces of silver bullion deposited for coining, which must also go through the hands of the refiner and melter, before it can be coined; and large quantities are ready to be brought, when the mint is ready for the receipt of it.

6th. The produce of the works when complete.

The rolling machines, for large coin, will roll from twelve to fifteen thousand ounces per day; that for small coin, about half that quantity.

The drawing machine, for strips, can execute, daily, the produce of one rolling machine.

The three cutting presses will each cut from fifteen to eighteen thousand planchettes per day, and the milling machine will also pass them through at the same time, when worked by horses; but, in the present state, will mill about ten thousand.

The three coining presses, when complete, will strike from eight to twelve thousand of the smaller kinds of coin per day; so that, on an average, ten thousand cents, equal to one hundred dollars, may be coined in a day by each press, if all are worked.

7th. The accounts of the Mint.

These are kept by the treasurer, according to the directions, and in the manner pointed out by the Secretary of the Treasury, and appear to your committee to be fully checked, for the security of the public, against every avenue of deception.

All moneys appropriated for the use of the mint, and advanced by the treasury of the United States, are granted in the name of the treasurer of the mint, on warrants from the President of the United States on the Secretary of the Treasury, and from him in favor of the treasurer of the mint, and are deposited in the Bank of the United States, to the credit of the treasurer of the mint, in a separate account.

He receives all claims upon the mint, in the first instance, and gives them his approbation before they can pass. These are under the heads of

Salaries to officers and clerks.
Wages of laborers.
Incidental and contingent expenses.
Copper purchased for coinage.

The account is then presented to the Director, who examines the same, and issues his warrant on the treasurer of the mint for payment. These accounts are rendered quarterly by the treasurer to the treasury, where they are subject to their final decision, as well respecting the ordinary expenses of the mint, as the accounts of bullion and coinage.

The bullion is received by the treasurer of the mint, in the first instance, who gives receipts therefor, dated and numbered, progressively, distinguishing, by a different series, those given for silver from those for gold.

These receipts are entered in a register containing two accounts, one for each of the precious metals.

All bullion is inspected by the assayer, and a few grains of every parcel given him to be assayed, and his certificate of the pure gold, or silver, in each deposite, is returned, to be entered in the register; the treasurer then computes the value of the deposite in coin of the United States, which is entered in the register.

The bullion is then delivered to the chief coiner, on the warrant of the Director, to the treasurer of the mint, who takes his receipt thereon. When coined, the chief coiner pays them over, on a like warrant, to the treasurer of the mint, and he again to the Treasurer of the United States, on a warrant from the Secretary of the Treasury.

By this system, established by the Treasury Department, all bullion is to be lodged in the vaults of the mint, and secured under two locks, the keys of which are kept by the treasurer and assayer.

When bullion is in the custody of the chief coiner, it is to be constantly subject to the inspection of the assayer, he being responsible for the standard purity of the respective coins; and when the bullion is not in use, it is to be kept under two locks, the keys of which are kept by the assayer and chief coiner.

From every mass of coins the treasurer takes three pieces, in presence of the assayer, which are secured by him under cover, with seal of the assayer thereon, for the purpose mentioned in the law.

All coins made on account of individuals, are paid by the treasurer, on the warrant of the Director.

In addition to these checks, all receipts of bullion, and delivery of coins, are entered in a regular set of books kept for that propose.

All the forms of the documents requisite for common use, are printed, bound, and issued under indented checks, for the greater public security.

Your committee having thus given a concise state of the mint, beg leave to recommend the following resolutions:

1st. Resolved, That provision ought to be made, by law, for the appointment of a refiner and melter in the mint of the United States, whose duty it shall be to take charge of all copper, and silver, and gold bullion, delivered out by the treasurer of the mint, after it has been assayed, and reduce it into bars or ingots for the rolling mills, and then to deliver them to the coiner or treasurer, as the director shall judge expedient, and to do and perform all other duties belonging to the office of refiner and melter, or which shall be ordered by the Director of the mint.

2d. Resolved, That provision ought to be made, by law, authorizing the treasurer of the mint to retain two cents per ounce from every deposite of silver bullion below standard, and four cents per ounce for every deposite of gold bullion below the standard, unless the same shall require the operation of the test; then six cents, as a compensation for refining and melting the same.

3d. Resolved, That gross bullion, brought for deposite and coinage to the mint, shall not be received in smaller quantities than two hundred ounces of silver, and twenty ounces of gold.

4th. Resolved, That the standard ter silver coin, as now established by law, be altered, and made to consist of nine equal ten parts of pure silver, and one-tenth part of pure copper, being equal to ten ounces sixteen pennyweights of pure silver in one pound Troy.

5th. Resolved, That the President of the United Sates be authorized to reduce the weight of the copper coin at his discretion, provided such reduction shall not exceed two pennyweights in each cent, and in proportion in each half cent, of which he shall give notice, by preclamation, and report the same to the next session of Congress.

6th. Resolved, That the Treasurer of the United States be authorized, by law, to distribute, at the public expense, all cents received from the treasurer of the mint, by sending them to some one bank in each State, where any are established, and where not, to the principal collector of such State, in proportion to the number of inhabitants of the State, to be by them paid out, for cash, to any person requesting the same, in sums not less than ten dollars value.

7th. Resolved, That provision ought to be made, by law, enabling the Director and treasurer ofthe mint to give a preference to bullion brought to the mint, already of or above the standard of the United States, so as not to be prevented coining and issuing the same, although bullion below the standard, and not yet refined, may have been deposited for coinage before it; any thing in any law heretofore passed to the contrary notwithstanding.