The U.S. Mint Coins:
Situated on a parcel of land obtained from the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY, the West Point Mint began life in 1937 as the West Point Bullion Depository. Known as “The Ft. Knox of Silver,” the facility has the capacity to hold two billion troy ounces of silver, and stored a large portion of U.S. silver reserves. With the exhaustion of the U.S. Strategic Silver Stockpile by the American Silver Eagle program, the West Point Mint vaults were tasked to hold U.S. gold reserves. Only Ft. Knox holds more of the U.S. national gold reserves than West Point.
"W" mint mark on a coin
In 1973, old coining presses were installed at West Point, to supplement production of Lincoln cents at the main U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. There was a nationwide shortage of pennies, as the price of copper rose and the copper content of pennies approached 1¢. People began hoarding millions of Lincoln cents, anticipating the value of copper would exceed the face value.
Production of Bicentennial quarters at West Point (again with no mint mark) began in 1974, and regular quarters were produced from 1977 to 1979. All this time, the facility still did not have official U.S. Mint status. In 1980 it began producing gold medals, and began storing gold bullion on-site for gold medal production in 1982. In 1983, the West Point Mint struck the first U.S. legal tender gold coin since 1933: the Los Angeles Olympics $10 gold eagle.
1986 brought the introduction of the American Eagle bullion coin program, and the demand for U.S. bullion coins finally led to West Point being declared a U.S. Mint branch in 1988. Today, the West Point Mint mints American Eagle bullion and proof coins in gold, silver, and platinum, as well as the Gold Buffalo and precious metal commemorative coins.
West Point uses the “W” mint mark, but only for certain proof and uncirculated bullion coins.