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Did You Know That the Cornerstone of the Second U.S. Mint Facility Was Laid on July 4, 1829?

On Independence Day 1829, the cornerstone of the second Philadelphia Mint was laid at the intersection of Chestnut and Juniper Streets. The first Mint, which occupied several buildings in downtown Philadelphia, was inadequate to the task of producing coinage for a rapidly expanding nation and in the late 1820s legislation authorizing a new Mint facility (and permanently authorizing the Mint, which had been subject to continuing legislative approval up to that point) was signed into law.

An article published in the Philadelphia Gazette that month offers this account of the proceedings: “The foundation stone of the edifice about to be erected, under the provisions of the law for extending the Mint establishment, according to a plan thereof approved by the President, was laid, on the morning of the 4th of July, a 6 o’clock, in the presence of the officers of the Mint, and a number of distinguished citizens.”

The distinguished citizens present were an impressive lot. President Jackson was joined by John C. Calhoun (then Vice President), Martin Van Buren (then Secretary of State), Secretary of the Treasury S.D. Ingham, Secretary of War John H. Eaton, and Secretary of the Navy John Branch.

U.S. Mint personnel included:

Director Samuel Moore

Treasurer James Rush

Chief Coiner Adam Eckfeldt

Assayer Joseph Richardson

Melter and Refiner Joseph Cloud

Engraver William Kneass

Clerk George Ehrenzeller

The facility’s architect, William Strickland, and two of the builders were also present.

A time capsule was placed in the cornerstone, which served as a commemoration of both the new facility and the reintroduction of the silver half dime. Again per the July 1829 Philadelphia Gazette: “Within the stone was deposited a package, securely enveloped, containing the newspaper of the day, a copy of the Declaration of Independence, of the Constitution of the United States, and of the Farewell Address of General Washington; also, specimens of the National Coins, including one of the very few executed in the year 1792, and a half dime coined on the morning of the 4th, being the first of a new emission of that coin, of which denomination none have been issued since the year 1805.”

Construction of the facility wrapped in 1833 and it went on to serve for nearly seven decades, shuttering in 1901 and demolished the next year.

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