On Saturday, May 23rd, the newest group of cadets graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. The school is the only one in the country that is also home to a U.S. Mint. But the West Point Mint’s proximity to a prestigious military academy isn’t the only thing that makes it special — it’s also home to a massive amount of gold and silver.
In 1938, the West Point Bullion Depository was built by the U.S. government to store a large silver reserve. Originally, the depository exclusively stored silver bullion bars, which is how it got nicknamed the “Fort Knox of silver.” Eventually, the West Point Bullion Depository expanded to house more than silver bullion bars.
In 1970, three million Carson City silver dollars were discovered in a U.S. Treasury vault in New York City. These silver dollars were transported to the West Point Bullion Depository, and became the first bullion not in bar form to be stored there. Three years later, despite it not being an official mint facility, the West Point depository began producing one-cent coins. For thirteen years, one-cent coins without mintmarks were issued from the West Point Bullion Depository.
Ten years after storing the first Carson City silver dollars, the facility at West Point also began striking and storing gold medals. Three years later, the facility started to mint gold bullion coins. It was only a matter of time before the West Point Bullion Depository was made into an official mint.
On March 31st, 1988, Ronald Reagan signed a bill into law that officially made the West Point Bullion Depository the West Point Mint. This was the first time in over a century that a new mint facility had been created. Even though it was no longer a bullion depository, West Point’s contributions to bullion production were far from over. The first-ever platinum bullion coin was produced at West Point in 1997. Three years later, the West Point Mint issued the exquisite gold-and-platinum $10 Library of Congress commemorative coin, which was the U.S.’s first bi-metal coin.
Housed next to a military academy, capable of storing tons of bullion, and responsible for the first-ever platinum and bi-metal coins, the West Point Mint has certainly made its mark on U.S. numismatic history.
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