A Cool, Modern, US Mint Medal - 1988 Mint Directors Conference
I recently had the opportunity to obtain a medal for which I had been searching a long time.
It is the 1988 Mint Directors Conference medal, struck by the Philadelphia Mint. It is bronze and 76mm in diameter.
The Mint Directors Conference occurs roughly every two years. While the size and scope of the discussions have changed over the years, the conference is generally a forum to discuss new minting technologies and the role of coinage in modern commerce and society (including collector coins).
The 15th conference, held in Washington DC in 1988, was hosted by the United States. According to the 1988 Annual Report of the Director of the Mint, 190 individuals participated as delegates of 35 different countries.
The medal pictured above was distributed to each of the 190 delegates. Apparently, 2500 additional medals were struck for distribution at the July 1988 American Numismatic Association convention in Cincinnati, Ohio, and by mail-order thereafter. Based on the number of auction appearances, either this additional distribution never happened, or the demand was so minimal that very few were actually ordered.
It is difficult to tell based on my photos, but the medal has a strange, red hue. According to the same report referenced above, a new surface finish was developed and used on these Mint Directors Conference medals. It must not have been very well received, because I have not seen this finish on any other medals produced after 1988.
On the reverse, you can see a small depiction of a mint worker at a screw press. This small design may very well have been modeled after the replica screw press that I believe was on display at the Philadelphia Mint at the time of this medal’s creation.
This press had been used at several numismatic conventions in the 1970s and 1980s to demonstrate the early striking process. Soft, lead blanks were hand-fed into the press to produce miniature US Mint medals. Below is one example of these medals. As it happens, the reverse of this medal replicates the John Ward Dunsmore painting “Inspecting the First Coinage”, which also includes a depiction of the first US Mint screw press at the very far right of the design.