The West Point Mint Facility was erected in 1937 near the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York. Originally it was called the West Point Bullion Depository. At one point it had the highest concentration of Silver of any U.S. mint facility, and for 35 years produced circulating pennies. It has since minted mostly commemorative coins, and stores Gold.
It gained official status as a branch of the United States Mint on March 31, 1988. Later that year it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Prior to its remodel in 2005 that added a second-story, the mint was a 170-by-256-foot one story reinforced concrete structure with a flat roof. The walls are mostly featureless with some recessed-arches at the entryways. There are four turrets at the corners actively used in the building’s security. It is on a four-acre parcel of land near the northern facilities of the United States Military Academy, with parking lots on either side. The interior contains minting presses and bullion compartments.
As of 1937, it served as a storage facility for Silver bullion and was thus nicknamed “The Fort Knox of Silver.” Even without United States Mint status, it produced U.S. coinage. From 1974through 1986, the West Point Mint produced Lincoln cents bearing no mint mark, making them indistinguishable from those produced at the Philadelphia Mint. The years 1977 to 1979 saw Bicentennial quarters and Washington quarters produced as well. Approximately 20 billion dollars worth of Gold was stored in its vaults in the early 1980s (although this was still significantly less than at Fort Knox).
September 1983 saw the first appearance of the “W” mint mark (from this still unofficial U.S. Mint) on a $10 Gold coin commemorating the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. This was the first legal tender U.S. Gold coin since 1933. In 1986, American Gold Eagle bullion coins were solely produced at this facility, again with no mint mark. The West Point Bullion Depository was granted mint status on March 31, 1988.
An unusual coinage from this mint occurred in 1996 when a commemorative Roosevelt dime was produced for the 50th anniversary of this design. Given as an insert with the standard mint sets sold that year, over 1.457 million were produced. Thus this “W” mint marked dime is not particularly scarce; it was made only for collectors.
Today all American Eagle series proof and uncirculated bullion coins in Gold, Silver and platinum are produced at West Point, along with all Gold commemorative and a few Silver commemorative coins. All commemoratives from West Point are struck with the “W” mint mark. Beginning in 2006, the West Point Mint also made all American Buffalo Gold bullion coins.
The West Point Mint still acts as a Gold bullion depository, and Silver is kept on site only in quantities to meet minting demands. Due to the presence of so much Gold bullion on site, security is high. The mint does not give public tours, and its address is withheld by the National Park Service in its National Register listings.
In 2002, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point was honored for its 200th anniversary, and a bicentennial commemorative Silver dollar was issued and unveiled on March 16 of that year, featuring a cadet color guard on the obverse and the helmet of Pallas Athena on the reverse. The coin was produced only at the West Point Mint.