A few weeks ago, the Mint posted on its YouTube channel a bit of B-roll footage shot inside the West Point Mint’s vaults. While the video isn’t particularly newsworthy, just a few miscellaneous shots (such being the nature of B-rolls), the sight of those stacks of gold and silver is always a little breathtaking—like walking into a dragon’s lair.
Around the 50-second mark, a Mint employee weighs a gold bar that comes in at 400.096 troy ounces. At a price of $1,125 per ounce, that bar’s value is $451,080.
(Video courtesy of the United States Mint)
The West Point facility was built in 1937 to store silver bullion, but began striking one-cent coins in 1973. In 1980, the facility began to strike gold medallions, and soon afterward, its vaults were made home to $20 billion in U.S. Mint gold. On March 31, 1988, it was officially made a branch of the United States Mint; although it still serves as a storage facility, the West Point Mint produces all Proof and Uncirculated silver, gold, and platinum American Eagle bullion coins; the 1-ounce American Buffalo gold bullion coin; and commemorative coinage as authorized by Congress.
In 2000, the West Point Mint struck the first-ever gold and platinum bimetallic coin: the Library of Congress Bicentennial $10 gold coins, both Uncirculated and Proof. (The companion Uncirculated and Proof silver dollars were struck at Philadelphia.) While commemorative and circulating bimetallic coinage have caught on in other countries, the United States has so far not embraced the format, and the Library of Congress gold/platinum coin remains the country’s first and only bimetallic issue.
Security at the West Point Mint prohibits public tours, and only special visitors are admitted. The rest of us will have to be content with Mint footage and photos, or visitor images like those from former Mint Director Edmund Moy, who included snapshots of his visit to the vault in his American Gold and Platinum Eagles (Whitman, 2014). ❑