The Birmingham Mint should not be confused with the Royal Mint as the former is a private entity. However, it did work in harmony with the Royal Mint. Its originator was Ralph Heaton II. When starting out they didn’t have new equipment to work with but relied on coin presses that were secondhand, as they were more affordable. The objective of this business – which started in 1850 -was to produce tokens and also coins.
The birth of the Birmingham Mint was as a result of Heaton producing the first set of tokens for Australia. Then following this work coins were being made for Chile. Following this success, this private mint won the contract by France, meeting the requirements for manufacturing a new series of coins. As a result of this contract Heaton was responsible for pioneering bronze minting.
The Royal Mint was extremely busy with their own production of silver and gold coins and as a result of this had to take on the services of the Birmingham Mint to produce finished coins for the country. The Birmingham Mint was very successful in its business and continued to grow. Eventually they had to bring in new equipment that soon overtook their original premises on Bath Street. They proceeded to find a new location that was bigger and more accommodating. This new provided enough space to employ a staff of 300. The Birmingham Mint had grown to such proportions that it was classified as the largest private mint in existence.
After Ralph Heaton II died the business was taken over by his son Ralph Heaton III. The business continued to prosper, with a further demand for new equipment to be added to the roster. They also branched out into other manufacturing processes such as that for parts needed for ammunition as well as gas fittings and metals, along with other items.