My video tours of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia

This weekend, I was having drinks with an old friend, someone I’ve known for 17 years, when all of a sudden he asked what I did. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised; dear friends know each other deeply and don’t always need to sweep up every morsel of information of their progressing careers.

Nonetheless, I realized that I need to do a much better job of posting my work so that people will know about it. Starting today.

I’m going to get some of my videos for and up onto the blog. Each one was originally published with a link to a story that, often, gave more context or detail or behind-the-scenes information than we could fit in the actual video, so I’ll also provide a link to that story. You can watch the video alone right here or, preferably, click through to and read the story that went along with it.

The first two were supposed to be one, but my colleague/producer/cameraman Ken Shadford got so much material that we ended up cutting them into two segments, each covering different aspects of coin production. The first is about how coins are now designed digitally and carved into molds using computers, and the second shows the actual production line on the day the Mint was making the new Yosemite state quarter.

The Mint was a fascinating place to shoot, not just because of what we captured about production there — we all carry its products around in our pockets, every day — but also because of what we couldn’t shoot. Wide shots, pans, and shots of windows were not permitted lest we give outsiders a sense of how the building is laid out. I confess I was all turned around myself and relied on our guide to thread me through the caverns and warrens of clattering equipment.

Some days I get to shoot things that are so over-the-top cool that the whole experience feels rather dreamlike. I am so focused on asking questions and guiding the narrative and heeding Ken that I often forget how to just bask in the great fortune of my job. Maybe this blog entry will count toward the appreciation, just a little.

I also loved the fact that you’re not allowed to bring loose change into the Mint. Every penny is left in an envelope at the security desk, and the metal detectors (both coming and going) are amped up so high that even the foil in a gum wrapper will set them off.

The contents of my pocket kept beeping until we realized that my tube of ChapStick was triggering the alarm. “Huh,” said the guard, who like the rest of the staff was exceptionally friendly, “I had no idea ChapStick had metal in it, but it must, because it’s going off.” He looked at it closely, rolling it between his fingers with a quizzical expression, and then handed it back. “You have a great day,” he said.

2 Responses to “My video tours of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia”

  1. Zachery Milan

    I can’t believe you were able to go inside the mint proper! I went to the exhibit and, cool though it was, I really wanted to get my hands on unpressed coins.