The 1792 Coinage Act also created a decimal system for U.S. currency and authorized the construction of a Mint building in the nation's capitol, which was at first Philadelphia.
National Mint - The Constitution
The Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 8 states that "Congress shall have the Power...To Coin Money."
Purpose of National Mint - Producing Coins and Establishing a National Identity
The National Mint of the United States primarily produces circulating coinage to enable the nation to conduct its trade and commerce. However its establishment was also important to enable the new nation to establish a national identity. The silver dollar was adopted as the unit of money in the United States. American Currency History started in the Colonial Era, before the Revolutionary War. Also refer to the First Bank of the United States.
US National Mint - The Coins
The National Mint was authorized to make coins of gold (Eagles, Half Eagles and Quarter Eagles), silver (Dollars, Half Dollars, Quarter Dollars, Dimes, and Half Dimes), and copper (Cents and Half Cents).
Gold in coins of Eagles, Half Eagles and Quarter Eagles
Silver in coins of Dollars, Half Dollars, Quarter Dollars, Dimes, and Half Dimes
Copper in coins of Cents and Half Cents
US National Mint for kids - The First Coins
The first coins struck by the US National Mint were silver "half dimes" that are believed to have been made from silverware provided by George and Martha Washington. The first coins that were circulated were copper cents. A consignment of 11,178 copper coins were circulated in 1793 and the first gold and silver coins were produced soon after.
Officers of the US National Mint
The original US National Mint had five officers who were the Director of the Mint, an Assayer, a Chief Coiner, an Engraver and a Treasurer. The job of the Assayer was to determine the quantity of gold, silver, or other metal in the coins. Henry Voigt (1738–1814) was the first Chief Coiner, and is credited with some of the first U.S. coin designs. Albion Cox was first Assayer for the US Mint and is credited with some of the first U.S. coin designs.
Director of the First US National Mint - David Rittenhouse
The First Director of the US Mint was a scientist and mathematician called David Rittenhouse (1732-1796). David Rittenhouse had been the Treasurer of Pennsylvania and was appointed to the post of Director on April 2, 1792 by George Washington. His annual salary was set at $2,000. David Rittenhouse struck the first coins of the mint as a test, made from the Washington's silver cutlery. The first test coins were then given to the President as a gift. David Rittenhouse was a firm believer that coins were artwork and great thought and work was put into designing the first US coins produced by the US Mint.
US National Mint - Design of the Coins
The National US Mint was tasked with designing the new US coins which would help to establish the identity of the new nation. A portrait of President Washington was first proposed for the obverse side which was the head or principal design of the coin, but the final version was an image of Liberty. The representation of Liberty was often used during the War of Independence a quasi-mythical goddess based on the Roman goddess Libertas. The motto "E Pluribus Unum" meaning 'Out of Many, One' was first used on US coinage in 1795. It was the motto proudly displayed on the US Great Seal and reflected the beliefs and values of the Founding Fathers. The use of the motto and the highly symbolic image of Liberty helped to establish the new, national identity of the United States.