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Mint your own coins

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I was thinking the other night about the type of coins I would like to have, and it occured to me that some of the coins I want don't yet exists. I have an idea for a specific design - or series, rather, that I think would be really cool and somewhat apealing to a niche market.

 

So, give that the coins I want don't yet exist... I was just wondering - what would it take to mint your own coins? I'm not talking about serious mass production here... more along the lines of artisan-quality silver bullion coins of my own design and minted on a small, hand operated hydrolic press, in quantities of, say, 50 or 100 at a time.

 

Speaking hypothetically, how would one even go about doing this? How would you make dies? What kind of press would you need? Where could you get blanks? What other problems would you have to solve? Does anybody do this now?

 

Just thought I'd throw that question out there.... who has ideas?

 

- Spike

 

You could probably get a Challenge Coin style of coin for $3-$5 each for 100 or more, if you are still looking to do this.

 

Jesse

http://ChallengeCoinAssociation.org

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Been there, done that. Lol, actually I started making them for my metals smithing class, and just kept making more....about 78 total. It's a hoot! I made these to commemorate my town, most are 2006, there are about 20 2007 ones. Once the planchet is annealed, and clipped to a 2"x2" square, it takes about 1-2 minutes to make each one. Then simply cut, treat the edge, and tone.

 

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>Consider this, the smallest US coins, the cent and dime, are struck at 40 tons. Silver dollar or silver round size is around 140 tons.

 

Hmmmm.... maybe I'll have to stick with gold. Thats pretty soft, right? :ninja:

 

How about Aluminum (or Aluminium, depending on which version of English you speak!)

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Aluminum has a low break point, it likes to crack before it likes to mold to a die, it's just brittle. I know many coins are made from it, but I don't think the average joe should bother. Take copper, brass, even bronze, get it red hot, quench it, and it will take nearly any impression with less than a ton of pressure. In other words a hammer, or roll mill. Silver and gold are the same way, but getting them red hot normally just melts them lol, so get them.....uhm, mighty close to red, maybe a dull orange glow. Annealing metals makes them very easily worked, and once they are worked, they are very strong again.

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Vfox said it once just got to say it again LOL I think those are great coins you have produced ;)

 

 

:ninja:

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How about Aluminum (or Aluminium, depending on which version of English you speak!)

 

 

Aluminium(I write in the unadulterated English) is easy to use in making dies for striking other low melting point metal coinage. I have a pair of dies I used to make medievalesque coinage many years ago, I used lead air rifle pellets as blanks.

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Thanks De Orc!

 

I used aluminum dies to impress a real coin into, then rolled that die over another coin. I got a Ireland stag (forgot the coins value) coin with the head of a 5 franc from WWII embossed on it lol. The stag coin is oval now though, I am going to turn it into a broach.

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Hello. I have been minting my own coins for quite sometime now. This year I am focused on minting Spanish colonial novedel / replicas for the 1715 fleet anniversary. These are the most fun I have ever had in coin minting. All the coins are hammer struck. And all the dies I make by hand engraving. I have always done my artisan mint coins this way - hand engraved or punched in with master punches that are hand engraved. Same with coin dies I make for people. I do it all the old fashioned way. I can be of some help here to answer the basic questions of how to make a coin die and to strike it.
Striking silver and gold is often rather easy, especially gold. Its so soft, it takes very little pressure to mint a nice coin. In fact to much its tends to spread out and become flat. Added alloy changes this of course - especially so with silver. But minting gold is easy. You can do this with hammer striking cold blanks.
Silver is going to be different. The lesser it is in purity, the harder it is to work with if you are using low budget DIY minting methods. Most people go with hammer striking or drop hammer presses and some build presses with hydraulics. It really depends on your budget and desired method. Each way has its own look.
Silver I always hot strike unless under a screw press or 40 ton press. But I rarely use those. And this year, I have only been doing hammer striking.
Pure silver will strike very nice. But when you get down to .900 silver. Its going to be harder to strike and work with, especially for larger size coins. Its a two person job here (though It can be done on your own ) one to keep the pieces red hot. One to do the striking.
If you want to have perfectly round blanks. You can do this at home, cheaply. But it is SLOW. You'll need to get a die punch that cuts out blanks. Not a cheap harbor freight one...but a real one. Sizes up to 1" diameter or even 2". For custom sizes. Visit a machine shop and have it made. I don't offer those at my store yet...and I should. Minting your own coins is getting more popular. And I totally understand why. Its simply put. FUN. I do sell die stock and make dies. But having dies made isn't cheap...
You're gonna spend some money to have dies made no matter who makes them. Looking at about 1k for just a simple die set. Yeah...
So. DIY is one way to go. And probably your only option.
Another is, for example. To have a mint, like mine or any other make your coins for you. But honestly. Where is the fun in that?

For me, depending on the pieces and style. I use whatever was used in the old days. And I rarely use the modern 40 ton press. Its fast, its effective. But it costs money to run and uses loads of electricity. But I do if its higher end stuff in large quantities.
I like the use of C frame screw press aka, fly press (in english term) myself. Something simple about it and it works really really well. Just watch your head. I am not kidding about that. You have to swing those arms and the counterweights are not a joke. They will knock you down and possibly could kill you. I have only heard of a couple people getting hurt using them. But it is fair warning. Always be safe.

Since most of you won't be able to buy something like the suggested above. I suggest hammer striking, drop hammer or the home made or tricked out pre-made hydraulic presses. I get some people are scared to hammer strike. I was too in the beginning. Now I am a mad man swinging a 10 pound hammer. In all my time striking by hand I have only ever once had the hammer bounce off and glide over my thumb causing it to bleed. Nothing smashed or broken. Its not as scary as it looks.
Hammer striking does have disadvantages. Dies bounce, so does the hammer. And if the dies are not held correctly, you will have a double impressed coin. And that is frustrating.
Making dies, is where it gets hard. If you don't have the means to engrave dies. You can try spark etching, or other means such as acid etching. Dremels ect. I have not tried these tricks. But I have seen it done and know it works. The photos I have provided, are all hand engraved dies I made using just a push engraver. And all the coins are hammer struck. I use small punches to the edges or markings of silver / gold purity along with my hallmark. If replicas, they contain a very small "COPY" mark such as on the replica 999 silver cobs I have been doing this year for the 1715 Fleet events.

Dies.
I would start with cheap bar stock, such as cold roll 1044 steel. The shorter the dies, the better. But if hand striking. Leave room enough to hold them so you can strike them. About 1.5 to 2" diameter cut to 3.5 x 3.5 or shorter for larger coins 40mm. Smaller coins, such as half dollar to quarter size. 1.25, or 1.5" dia cut to a taper (lathed) and the base, or obverse die being shorter about 2.5" to 3" The top die can be about 4".
Dime and nickel sized coins. I use 1.25" almost every time for hammer striking. If used in a larger press, I use larger diameter, tapered down to the actual size of the coin to be minted. Make sense? I hope so...

Engraving: Make sure the cuts are deep enough, but not to deep. To deep, the coins will stick to your dies and can be a pain to remove from your dies. To shallow, they will not take a good impression and will bounce, or look flat and horrible. You want them just right so you can restrike them for a crisper proof strike. The first strike should be enough you can realign the coin back into the grooves of the die. You'll feel the coin lock in. Hold tight, strike again.
So when you make your dies. Use a piece of clay to take impressions as you create it for both design and depth. If the design is casting a shadow. Its typically good to go. Test strikes in fine pewter, or 999 silver is what I always do first. And I can make adjustments if needed. Once a die is cut. Its easy to fix. Adding some bevel to the lettering, or design ect.
I suggest, start with something simple. See if you can't re-create a coin you think is simple in design. Practice practice.

Engraving.
The best engravers in my opinion for cutting dies are round and flat gravers from .36 TP and up, to tapered rounds .36 and up.
EC MULLER makes great push gravers for cheap you just need the wood handle and a chasing hammer. GRS tools makes nice carbide steel gravers. About 20$ each. Pre cut. Ready to go. I like those, and I use them. Though I now make my own graver bits.

A power assisted engraver is a good idea - but also costly. GRS gravermax is a good unit. California airtools silent air compressor. 901 hand-piece and a ball vise will be needed.

If going the dremel route. Use dental burs. Round, cutting wheels and cup. Here you can not only engrave a die, but make a master punch to stamp in your design. Such as, letters a portrait. Whatever. You will need to use a good steel for master punches and have them heat treated. And then, basically, like a 925 stamp is punched on a ring. Align and punch. Easier than it sounds...
You can heat your blank die up to red hot and punch this way and it will impress easier. But you will then neat to heat treat the die once all punching is complete. Again, visit a local tool or machine shop for that unless you know how to temper and heat treat steel.

Coining has a lot of different methods over the last 500 years. And I find them all fascinating. From coins made from rollers ( like a jewelers rolling mill - only with dies engraved into them) to hammer struck, cast, pantograph reduction of a larger sculpture, to the good old fashioned hand engraved dies.

I am sorry if this was hard to understand. I am in a rush as its our 18ths graduation day in about 1 hour.
The photos are the silver 999 troy oz and fractional I am making this year at my mint, Saint Augustine Mint for the commemoration of the shipwrecks of the 1715 Fleet as well as some of the other Florida wrecks and Spanish cobs. I suppose I was destine to make these at some point as I have been a collector and dealer of the genuine coins for years. But as a silver bullion collector. Nothing has been as much fun as filling my galleon wood treasure box full of these coins. I feel like a kid again that still has the dreams of being a Goonie.

Anyway. Happy to help with coining / minting questions. Just send me a message.
Cheers.
-Ryan

 

Cob Replicas Pile.jpg

HALF REALE DIES.jpg

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Little bit of a necro post, but I thought I'd chime in that I've written a book about how to make and design your own coins. It focuses on the design aspect and how to approach manufacturers rather than doing the labour of striking the coins yourself:

 

Here's a link to the thread I've started on the book :)

http://www.coinpeople.com/index.php/topic/36316-coin-making-guide/

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It is hypothesized soldiers throughout history took local "monies"  i.e. coins and put them in personal forges or presses to make desired items such as spear heads, fish weights, musket balls, bullets, military figurines, or new repurposed coinage and tokes.  This activity had two purposes.  First. it had a negative impact on the enemies economy. Second, it generated difficult to obtain items soldiers needed or wanted.  So a good place to start if you seek to mint your own coins; is places that sell equipment to make items like the ones in the list above.  Maybe take a class in how those hobbies work, and what basic minting or forging equipment is needed.  Don't be afraid to ask the practitioners how they make souvenir coins in their particular craft.  They have all probably tried it, seen it done, or heard a particular methodology.  You don't have to make on like your planning to set up a major counterfeiting ring.  Letting people know you'd like to know how to make souvenir coins is fine.  You might just get your answer.  Best wishes.  

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