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Fire at the Philadelphia Mint - 1816

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Here is director Patterson's initial account of the January 1816 fire at the Philadelphia Mint. This damaged the rolling and drawing machines necessary for silver and gold coin strip production. When coinage was resumed, work concentrated on copper cents. These were struck from planchets prepared by Matthew Boulton in England, so no metal rolling was required. Workmen also spent time building a brick structure and installing new rolls.

Mint of the U.S.

 January 11, 1816


            I have the mortification to inform you, that this morning, about 2 o’clock, a fire broke out in the Mill-house, a wooden building, belonging to the Mint; which is consumed, together with an adjoining building containing the rolling and drawing machines; and also the Milling-house.

            The front part of the building, containing the coining presses, the office and assayer’s department is uninjured.

The manner in which this fire originated is perfectly unaccountable. No fire is ever kept in the part of the building where it was first discovered, nor had any of the workmen been there for some days.

            No loss of gold or silver will be sustained of any consequence not will the copper coinage be in the least impeded.

            I shall not fail to give you further necessary information on the unpleasant subject as soon as an examination can be made of the damages sustained.

            I am, Sir, with the greatest respect and esteem, Your most obedient servant.

            Robert Patterson

Edited by RWB
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  • Member: Seasoned Veteran

If it had happened about 20 years earlier they could have pinned it on Nero the watch dog knocking over a lantern, but I'm pretty sure he was in Doggie Heaven by then. :grin:

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