Skip to content

Private Mint

Private Mint.  A nongovernment mint. A private manufacturer with blanking, coining and die-making equipment to custom produce coins, tokens and small medals for anyone. Private mints have been established in countries of high industrial activity: Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. The term "mint" in the term implies the manufacture of coins, requiring the use of coining presses. But these same coining presses can also strike tokens – and medals like coins (see coin-medal). To keep their presses busy, private mints frequently strike noncoin items. However, coining presses cannot strike pieces larger than, say, two inches; thus private mints generally do not have the capacity for large medal manufacturing. This is the specialize activity of medal makers (see medal manufacturing).

Private mints have never replaced national mints (governments closely guard this exclusive right to strike their own coins). However private mints have rendered services, like supplying roll strip or blanks, to national mints in times of need. Only in the 20th century have private mints taken on a marketing activity to sell direct to the public the coins, medals and tokens they produce.

History of private mints.  The first such private mint was Matthew Boulton's Soho Mint in Birmingham, established in 1788. In the 1760s Boulton developed an engine business based upon the inventions of James Watt. Once this business was running smoothly Boulton sought other ventures involving machinery that could run off his steam powered engines. He made experiments with die stamping, establishing, in 1782, a shop for diestamping and a button factory. He struck some prototype coins as early as 1786.

There was a shortage of copper coinage in England at the time and Boulton

developed a plan for striking coins to relieve the shortage. To implement this plan he established the Soho Mint. He hired Jean-Pierre Droz (1746-1823), a Swiss engraver working at the Paris Mint, built a building and filled it with machinery run by his engines. He didn't get the contract to strike coins for the sovereignty, but he did strike coins for countries (Bahamas) and tokens for the merchants of England. In 1805 this early effort failed but some of the equipment was obtained by the son of his old partner, James Watt, who had established a mint under this name. And some was obtained by Ralph Heaton, who, in 1819 established the Heaton Mint. The later flourished and has been called The Birmingham Mint, or simply, The Mint, ever since.

While the Birmingham Mint dominated private custom coining for a century, some German firms were very active. Berlin's Oertel not only struck coins, but medals of all sizes, and tokens as well.  Here are some notable private mints and their marks:


Name, Location                           Mintmark            Period

Ackroyd & Best Ltd., Morley, England .       A                     1920

Argor S.A. Lavorazione, Switzerland. .         ARGOR          1961-date

Birmingham Mint, Birmingham. . . . . .          H                     1819-date

Boulton's Soho Mint, Birmingham. . . .          K, SOHO        1788-1806

Central American Mint Ltd.,San Salvador     CAM               1892-94

Franklin Mint, Media, Pennsylvania . .          FM                  1965-89

J.R. Gaunt, Birmingham . . . . . . . .                 G                     1920

Heaton Mint, Birmingham. . . . . . .                .H, HEAT0N   1819-date

Hirsch Messing und Kupfewerke, Berlin.      A                     1901

Huguenin Freres, Le Locole, Switz. . .           HUGUENIN   1868-date

King's Norton, Birmingham. . . . . . .               KN                  1919-72

Krupp, Berlin. . . . . . . . . . . . .                                                 1894

Lauer, Nuremburg . . . . . . . . . . .                    V                     1888-1918

John Milton, London. . . . . . . . . .                   M                     1788-92

Oertel (Berliner Medaillen-Munze

Otto Oertel), Berlin. . . . . . . .                  OERTEL         1892-1910

Oeschger-Merdoch, Barcelonia . . . . .            OM                  1865-90

Pobjoy Mint, Ltd, Sutton, England. . .

Poissy, France . . . . . . . . . .                             (Thunderbold) 1924-25

Sproong, Sweden

Stora Kopparbergs-Bergslag, Sweden . .                                1719-91

Sunshine Mint, Hayden Lake, Idaho. . .

James Watt & Co., Birmingham . . . . .           W                   1786-1905

Wolschot, Antwerp. . . . . . . . . . .                    R                     1814

Wyon Private Mint, London. . . . . . .               WW                1843

excerpted with permission from

An Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology

For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators


Roger W. Burdette, Editor

NNP is 100% non-profit and independent // Your feedback is essential and welcome. // Your feedback is essential and welcome.