As a break from the string of Gold Kennedy Half Dollar posts, I wanted to complete the series of articles from my tour of the West Point Mint. This final article takes a look inside a bullion storage department containing newly $2 billion in gold and silver.
Previous articles from my visit include:
- Restoring the JFK Portrait for the 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half Dollars – Coin Update
- First Look at 2014 Proof Platinum Eagle Design – Mint News Blog
- Background and History of the West Point Mint – Coin Update
- Producing 24 Karat Gold and Reverse Proof Silver Kennedy Half Dollars – Mint News Blog
- Coin Production at the West Point Mint – Coin Update
The West Point Mint was originally called the West Point Bullion Depository and served as a storage facility for silver bullion. It once had the highest concentration of silver of any US Mint facility, earning the nickname “The Fort Knox of Silver.” In 1980, West Point also began storing gold bullion in its vaults. Shortly afterwards approximately $20 billion worth of gold was stored at the facility, making it second only to Fort Knox for gold storage.
In the following years, the West Point facility began to take on more production duties including minting commemorative gold coins and American Gold Eagle bullion coins. It gained status as an official branch of the US Mint on March 31, 1988. Production would continue to expand, eventually including commemorative silver coins, American Silver Eagles, American Platinum Eagles, American Gold Buffalo coins, as well as other numismatic items.
In addition to the extensive production activities, the West Point Mint continues to serve depository functions. During my recent visit to the facility, I had the opportunity to step inside one of the storage compartments.
The compartment contained stacks and stacks of gold bars. I was told that these were “Good Delivery” gold bars from approved purchasers. The bars were .9999 pure and had a weight of 400 troy ounces each, carrying serial numbers and hallmarks from the manufacturer.
I was able to very carefully pick up one of the bars, which carried a value of more than $500,000. It was much heavier than expected for the small size and unwieldy to handle.
The entire compartment contained more than 1.4 million ounces of gold with a value of more than $1.8 billion.
Silver bars were also stored in the compartment within a caged area. At the time of the visit, there were 2,800 silver bars with a total fine weight of 2,778,708.334 troy ounces and total value of $58,936,403.76.
In what appeared to be a long running tradition, I was able to sign the wall of the storage compartment.
A historical giant scale can also be found within the vault. You can see my signature on the section of the wall appearing above the left tray.