United States Mint

Image: 「同合衆國造幣寮」。United States Mint Source:  Courtesy of the Kume Museum of Art.

On July 29, 1872, the delegation visited the United States Mint, a building filled with coin-making. At the time, dimes and quarters were roughly 90% real silver, while pennies were 95% copper. The delegates watched as blocks of silver and copper were melted at extreme heat into thin sheets, then cut with circular punches into the correct denomination. Crafting coins was an intricate process, with skilled human labor and machines working under thin margins for error. The group marveled at the careful system of large flat trays, scales with indented holes, and funnels, that allowed freshly minted coins to be sorted into cloth bags. Back in Japan, changes in the nation’s currency led the country to utilize the same Western manufacturing technology to create new gold, silver, and copper coinage.


Kume, Kunitake. “THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” Japan Rising: The Iwakura Embassy to the USA and Europe, edited by Chushichi Tsuzuki and R. Jules Young, 94. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511721144.