In 1835, the United States public debt was $0 for the only time in history. The first assassination attempt against a United States President (Andrew Jackson) took place. The Great Fire of New York destroyed 800 buildings (including the New York Stock Exchange). People did not have much faith in US Currency at the time. This led to the founding of a private mint called Z. Bisbee Co. – which eventually became The Osborne Coinage Company – America’s Oldest Private Mint. The company based itself in the heart of Cincinnati and started producing gold and brass coins early on, adding lightweight and modern aluminum to their product line in 1892.
Over the past 200 plus years, Osborne Coinage has served The United States, its people and its presidents as a custom coin manufacturer. In 1860, when Illinois Senator Abraham Lincoln decided to run for president, the company provided him with inexpensive coins to give away during his campaigns in both 1860 and 1864. Both sets of dies are still in our die vault today. Osborne made coins for eight other presidential campaigns including Ulysses Grant and Franklin Roosevelt.Coal mines and lumber mills came to Osborne Coinage in the early 1900’s to purchase scrip – money used to pay employees and accepted at company stores. Known as ORCO Scrip, the counterfeit resistant coins were specific to a certain coal mine or mill and did not have value anywhere else.
The War Years
During World War II, the Office of Price Commission asked Osborne Coinage to make food ration tokens. With more than 1,000 skilled employees working 24 hour shifts, the company manufactured 5 billion red and blue fiber tokens, as many as 80 million a day, to make change for ration stamps, thus saving coinage metals for the war effort.
Other milestones include:
- Minting of millions of doubloons for the Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans every year.
- Making more transportation tokens than any other private mint (exceeding the 100 million tokens used by the New York subway system).
Osborne Coinage entered the Ad Specialty market in the 1950’s and is the leading producer of specialty advertising coins and coins used for consumer and business to business premiums. Our coins are used as awards, commemoratives, fund-raisers, redemption vehicles, sports schedules, and in an infinite number of other ways.
During the 1990’s, Osborne was very happy to partner with well-known corporations on some exciting high-volume commercial successes. These companies and programs included: the Shell President program, General Mills cereal box prizes and collectible coins for Kenner’s Starting Lineup and Star Wars action figures.
By adding more large-diameter production presses, Osborne Coinage was able to enter the rapidly growing casino token market sparked by riverboat gaming legalization in Mississippi and Illinois. In a highly successful partnership with technology leader IDX Inc., the X-Mark Optical Security System was perfected and took off in gaming markets around the world. The X-Mark System stopped counterfeiting by allowing a casino’s games to only accept their own tokens. In 1998, Ontario Canada’s gaming commission required that there be no crossplay between any of its 22 casinos and the X-Mark system delivered. The program was such a success that casinos from as far away as Argentina and Greece came to Osborne for X-Mark tokens for their casinos. Upwards of 250,000,000 tokens were ordered by casinos from all over the world.
The casino gaming market was short lived as operators switched to cashless ticket systems thus making tokens obsolete. Moving with the times, Osborne Coinage began offering secure token destruction services to casinos. Tokens were chopped up on mobile rigs that traveled out to casinos across the country and the metal recycled into new products.
In 2006 Osborne acquired its largest competitor, Roger Williams Mint, as well as its largest distributor, Van Brook of Lexington, KY. Osborne combined them into its TokensDirect division to become the top seller of arcade and carwash tokens in the world.
Recently Osborne Coinage has focused on high quality collectible coins, partnering with top consumer brands Franklin Mint and Danbury Mint. Through a joint venture with Canada’s own national mint, Osborne was chosen to produce a variety of circulating and non-circulating numismatic coins issued for countries around the world.
Going through many trade names in history, from Z. Bisbee, Murdock, Osborne Register and finally Osborne Coinage Co., the business has become a well-trusted name in the minting industry for almost 200 years. With 60,000 sq ft of manufacturing under one roof, our warehouse holds enough copper, brass, nickel silver and specialty alloys to make more than 20,000,000 coin blanks. Our metal coils are purchased from US mills. Our self contained facility includes all engraving, die production and tool making necessary to produce coins and tokens. With 3 blanking lines and coining presses from 100 to 1,200 tons, we can turn out as many as 600,000,000 coins and tokens a year.
In 2018, Osborne Coinage continues to hold the designation of America’s Oldest Private Mint. The company never stops learning, adapting and innovating to the changes and globalization of market place.