How circulation coins are made

Half a barrel of Irish five-cent euro coins.
The creator of the slideshow is Chikako Harada.

The Mint of Finland has struck euro coins for more member States than any other mint. Besides Finland, coins minted at Mint of Finland are also used in Greece, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Cyprus and Ireland.

The coins used in the euro area are eminently descriptive of Europe: common on the reverse and national on the obverse. The obverse designs often feature images from national history or mythology. Finnish coins bear an image of flying swans, Italian coins Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man and Spanish coins the likeness of King Juan Carlos I.

 

Coin design

The map on the common side of the euro coins was updated in 2007, for the first time, to reflect the new and wider European Union. The national sides of the coins remained unchanged.
Slovenia acceded to the European Union in 2007. The coin depicted features Primož Trubar, Slovenian Protestant, reformer and founder of the Slovenian Protestant Church. The entire euro set of Slovenia has been minted by The Mint of Finland.

 

The reverse side of all coins in the euro area, symbolising the Union, was designed by Luc Luycx of the Mint of Belgium in 1996. The map appearing on the coins was re-designed in 2007 to reflect Europe instead of just the countries in the European Union. No changes were made to the one, two and five cent pieces, however.

The eight euro coins vary in size, weight, and colour, and they are made of different metals. The edges of consecutive coins are also different. The use of two metals in the one and two euro coins is based on a number of practical considerations. The design makes it easier for the visually impaired to tell the coins apart, but there are also security-related reasons. Bimetal coins are more difficult to counterfeit, a quality further enhanced by the inscription on the edge of the two-euro coin.

Euros are accepted as legal tender also outside the eurozone. Euros are used in Monaco, San Marino, the Vatican and Andorra, and also accepted in Montenegro and UN-controlled Kosovo.

 

Special issue two Euro coins

Since 2004, each Member State has been permitted to issue one two-euro commemorative coin each year. These special-issue coins have the same common side as regular coins while the commemorative image appears on the obverse.

Special-issue coins minted in Finland have celebrated topics such as the birth of the United Nations, universal suffrage and the anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. In 2009, a commemorative two-euro piece was struck in honour of 200 years of autonomy.

The mintage of special issues varies greatly. Up to thirty million special-issue coins may be minted in Germany while San Marino only requires 130,000. The mintage of Finnish special-issue coins varies from 1.5 to 2.5 million; the Autonomy coin, for example, had a mintage of 1.6 million pieces.

 

Mint of Finland mintmark

Euro coins also bear a mintmark, also referred to as the mint master’s mark, indicating where the coin was minted. The initials of the head of the mint, used for quite some time, have now been replaced with the logo of Mint of Finland. The coins may also bear a country code or the insignia of the engraver. The two tiny letters “L” appearing on the common side of euro coins stand for Luc Luycx.

 

Tool manufacture

Making a 20-cent piece requires a matrix (left), punch and die. Those shown above are only for the national side.

 

Coin minting requires speciality tools. A digitised image of the coin is engraved in the original master die or matrix, which is then chemically reinforced through tempering. On the matrix, the image appears as a negative. A working punch is formed when the matrix is pressed on the end of a steel cylinder. The punch is used to make the working die, where the image again appears as a negative. When a coin is struck using the working punch, the image also appears “right side up” on the final coin.

Several hundred punches can be pressed with just one mould, and just as many stamps with a single punch. Finally, up to ten million coins can be minted with one stamp.

 

A high-speed cutter is preparing the matrix. It may take up to 24 hours to carve one tool.

The steel blanks for the matrices, punches and dies are tempered in a tempering stove. As steel hardens, its structure is modified by heating it red-hot and then cooling it quickly in an oil bath. Tempered steel is capable of withstanding the intense surface pressure caused by e.g. striking.

 

Blanks lack value

 

Just before minting the coin is but a blank piece of metal.

The circulation coin blanks, or planchets, are made of copper, nickel, brass, zinc or aluminium. Silver and gold planchets are used to make collector coins.

The Mint of Finland commissions its blanks from suppliers in Finland and abroad. The blanks are fed into the machines, which then spit out finished coins. The blanks for bimetal coins are delivered separate and only combined at the minting stage.

Planchets for collector coins are made by hand at The Mint of Finland. Working a sheet or strip of metal into round planchets is accomplished in four to five distinct stages.

 

Coins are struck in the minting section 

Finished coins fall into the smaller bin and are only transferred to the larger bin after quality control inspection.

 

Sustained investment in technology has made The Mint of Finland a pioneer in the development of circulation coin production technology, with each sector subjected to careful analysis.

Coins are minted, or struck, in the minting section. It is here that the blanks are turned into money of a certain denomination.

Circulation coins issued in high numbers are manufactured as in any factory: with speed, precision and efficiency. Each strike of the circulation coin minting machine produces yet another coin.

With collector coins, the minting section takes on a different mood. Another machine is used to strike the coins, often employing double punching. Collector coins are also worked by hand at several stages of the process. Quality control is equally stringent for both circulation and collector coins.

 

Making money.

 

Asko Kahra adjusts the blank stoppers on the Schuler.

 

782 coins a minute; 46,920 an hour; 375,360 a day; and almost 1.9 million a week.

 

Stringent quality control

The quality of circulation coins is monitored at several stages of the process. Paavo-Pekka Männikkö inspects a coin by using a loupe. A simple perforated plate is used to test the coin: it must pass through one aperture but not another, while the third aperture tests the diameter of the coin.
The device on the right is a brand-new quality control laboratory testing device.

 

The quality of circulation coins is monitored at several stages of the process. Since 2000, circulation coin production at The Mint of Finland has been certified to the ISO 9001- quality management system. Superior quality is a prime competitive asset for the mint.

In addition to manual and visual quality control, coins are also subjected to laboratory testing using e.g. magnifying cameras. Stress testing equipment reveals the strength of bimetal coins.

Flawed or defective coins are removed from production and recycled for raw material.

 

The device tests the magnetic force of the coins. Slot machines identify coins based on qualities such as conductivity and magnetism.

 

Chief Quality Control Officer Miia Arkiomaa measures the strength required for separating the parts of a euro coin consisting of two kinds of metals.

 

A pallet full of coins

Teemu Antikainen makes preparations for shrink-wrapping a pallet before delivery to the client.

The rolls of coins we see at supermarket checkouts are packed at the Mint. Five rolls go into each bundle that is then weighed to further ensure that the number of coins is correct. The bundles are assembled onto the packing pallet by robot. As at other manufacturing plants, the pallet is then shrink-wrapped in plastic, and the order is ready for delivery to the client.

 

Circulation coin production is a highly automated process. Coin rolls are bundled by robot.

 

A bundle of Finnish €2 coins.