Visit to the Art Reserve Bank Mint
I got to visit the place where the art coins are brought to life with the help of a huge vintage manual metal press. As manager of the Berlin branch and enthusiast of the bank’s idea, it was a nice opportunity to get closer to the actual physical workings of this experiment. I like it that this currency is not digital but actually made of hard metal.
Once housed at a specially designed building in a public square in Eindhoven, these days the mint has its headquarters inside an art warehouse at Alkmaar, shared with other theater and arts initiatives.
It’s quite an impressive machine, able to apply 120 tons of pressure and rearrange the metal atoms on the surface of the copper-nickel-zinc alloy disc. The alloy is not an expensive material, but the specially comissioned artwork stamped on it comes in a limited edition of 100 pieces.
An image of this huge machine is on the back of every coin minted by the bank, along with the inscription “Ars Pecuniae Magistra“ (Art is money’s master). Sometimes though the press is used to mint off-series coins as tokens for comemorative events, as it was the case today.
According to Ron Paperkamp, the press was acquired in the second-hand market. Manufactured by Dutrannoit Charleroi in Belgium around 1910, it is to these days still sought-for by businesses in India and other countries that use this type of technology for creating silverware, among other objects. Since it holds its second-hand value well, if it gets decomissioned from the bank it can always be sold to recoup its value.