Coin production secrets at the Money Museum

Yesterday, 16 November, the third lecture this autumn from the ‘3X3’ cycle of lectures took place at the Money Museum. Modestas Katkevičius, head of the Marketing and Commerce Division at the Lithuanian Mint, delivered the lecture ‘Coin Production Secrets’, in which he not only revealed coin production technologies, key statistical data, but also a number of interesting facts about coin production. Here are the 10 most important secrets revealed in the lecture:

  • UAB Lithuanian Mint is a private limited liability company with 100 per cent of its shares owned by the state and managed by the right of property trust by the Bank of Lithuania.
  • There are only about 70 mints in the world, and the Lithuanian Mint is one of them, and the only one in the Baltic States. We had more than one mint in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, while a mint (founded in 1936) also operated in the interwar period.
  • The Lithuanian Mint produces not only coins but also medals, plaques, awards (including state ones), various badges, stamps and other products. It not only produces for the Lithuanian market but for foreign ones as well, for which both collector and circulation coins, as well as state awards are minted. It co-works with both the European Union countries and elsewhere. A total of nearly 70 per cent of the Lithuanian Mint’s products are exported!
  • While relatively small, the Lithuanian Mint is among the most modern in the world. It produces collector coins with holographic images (one of the few mints in the world to do so) and is the sole mint to impress holographic images onto the coin itself (the usual practice is to impress them onto blanks).
  • About 500 million circulation coins are minted at the Mint per year; a minting machine strikes 12 coins per second. The Mint works in three shifts.
  • The smallest product minted at the Lithuanian Mint weighed a mere 0.5 g, while the heaviest one – as much as 0.5 kg!
  • There is practically no metal industry in Lithuania, thus metallic blanks are sent from abroad. To produce euro coins, different metals and their alloys are used: steel, copper, aluminium, zinc, tin, nickel and brass. Producing collector coins requires silver and gold. Gold is almost completely pure, while silver contains a small amount of copper. Interestingly, the raw material of more precious metals in most cases is not original but obtained from melted products (silverware, jewellery, etc.).
  • Of euro coins, mainly 1, 2 and 5 cent coins are minted. It is interesting to note that their cost price is higher than the denomination itself (of other denominations, conversely, it is lower). The coinage of 50 euro cent coins is the smallest.
  • Euro coin production (not only in Lithuania) is a complicated and meticulous process, as the national sides of different countries are different: on some of them, the image is smaller, on others it is not as small, but both the measurements and weight of each coin must be uniform.
  • From 150,000 to 200,000 counterfeit coins are identified across Europe every year. There are several simple ways to distinguish a counterfeit coin: rub its edge on a sheet of paper and, since counterfeit coins contain lead, there is high probability that a dark stripe will appear. A magnet will attract counterfeit coins more strongly because they contain more steel. When thrown on the table, authentic and counterfeit coins will sound differently. They can be distinguished visually as well: counterfeit coins have a rather matt surface.