Fort Knox is for American gold. The U.S. Mint facility in West Point, New York, it seems, is for foreign gold.
A new cache of documents have been released via the Freedom of Information Act that detail the U.S. government’s collection of approximately 4,686,358 foreign gold coins, held just a few hours drive from Manhattan along the banks of the Hudson River. British sovereigns, French francs, German marks, and many more coins (some now out-of-circulation) can be found within its vaults. Many of the gold coins were supposed to be melted into gold bars but instead, the government decided to store them in bags.
The memos contain hidden tales about how the Mint came to possess some of these coins. For instance, in 1944, a shipment of gold coins were picked up by a U.S. naval vessel in South Africa, bound for delivery to a Polish bank. Instead, it appears, the government kept the coins and paid the bank 351 gold bars—the coins would eventually be controlled by the Treasury’s “Special Gold Custody Account” and end up in New York. Other coins were purchased from countries such as Argentina and Greece as far back as the 1940s, and in 1982, 4,141 bags of this foreign gold was transferred to what was then called the West Point Bullion Depository.
According to CoinNews.net, the West Point facility was right behind Fort Knox in total gold storage during the 1980s. It’s original purpose, upon opening in 1938, was to store silver, and would go on to produce pennies, bicentennial quarters, and American Eagle Platinum Bullion Coins. In 1988, its status as a “Mint” became official when its named changed from the West Point Bullion Depository to the West Point Mint.