A Quick Review of Die Making – Then and Now

Still shot from USMINT YouTube video titled "Then & Now: Part III (Die Making)."

By Antoinette Rahn

It never ceases to amaze me how much technology changes processes over a matter of decades, yet some elements of the process remain the same.

While observing the video footage about die making in this short documentary, shared by the United States Mint, it was fascinating to see the process instituted in the 1940s to produce the dies for the most common U.S. coins of the day.

For example, the transfer engraving machine, which reproduced a large model of a master die on a small master die in steel, is situated on a setting that looks like an average, everyday workbench with a supervisor managing the process. Flash forward to modern times, and the process is still an element of the production of the master die and working dies, but the technology has automated some aspects, and efficiencies have been incorporated.

See for yourself…

And yet, placement of dies in the press is still managed by a member of the production team, just as it was in the 1940s.

One can only imagine what one of the supervisors in the documentary, the Washington Parade – The Mint from 1940 (courtesy of Columbia Pictures), might think if they were to spend a day in the United States Mint production area today.

Even if you are not quite up to the task of touring the United States Mint, visiting the U.S. Mint’s YouTube Channel is a great way to enjoy a virtual adventure of an operation that’s evolved greatly yet maintains the spirit of ingenuity on which it was developed.


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