WEST FORK – Shire Post Mint, known for the fantastical coins it creates under license from franchises like Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings, is now using waste from that process to launch a new product line, Solid Orbs to metallic mushrooms, and TikTok users are taking notice.
Mintmaster Woody Maringer said casting is a natural way to expand the Mint’s offerings, allowing it to utilize its scrap and ensure the purity of the metal. So far, the Mint’s casting offerings have been mostly copper, but Maringer said other metals, including brass and bronze, will be considered.
Maringer said he started experimenting with casting scrap copper late last year, creating various shapes with homemade molds and using a press to alter those shapes. He was experimenting with an orb one day, using a press to turn it into an icosahedron – the now distinctive shape of a 20-sided die made famous in pop culture by the game Dungeons and Dragons – and it worked.
“I thought maybe we had something here,” Maringer said.
Like a lark, Maringer added music to a video he made of the process and uploaded it to TikTok. The result today is over 7 million views on the video and some TikTok traction on the new lineup of items.
Helen Maringer, managing director of Shire Post, said the casting process and resulting products seem to be resonating with TikTok users. A variety of videos on aspects of the Mint’s production process received considerable views.
Whether and how that attention will translate into sales is still unclear, she says, but word of mouth is never a bad thing. La Monnaie has more than 7,500 subscribers on the platform and more than 2 million likes.
“It’s a different crowd for us,” Helen Maringer said.
Anne Marie Velliquette, associate professor of marketing at the University of Arkansas’ Walton School of Business, said TikTok is a good place to reach potential customers, especially younger ones, those in Gen Z and even the millennial population. She said other social media platforms are trying to copy TikTok’s success by using engaging video content to grab and hold the viewer’s attention. She added that for sellers, TikTok can be a good place because it allows some forms of direct purchase through the site.
There are 1 billion monthly active uses on TikTok and it ranks as the top social media platform for engagement, with an average session lasting nearly 11 minutes, twice as long as ‘a Pinterest ranked second, according to marketing and sales platform hubspot.com.
“They’re doing something right,” Velliquette said of the Shire Post videos.
Shire Post Mint started in 2001, but it was in 2003 that Mint founder Tom Maringer struck a deal with George RR Martin to license coins based on the books “A Song of Ice and Martin’s Fire” which later became hit on the HBO series “Game of Thrones”. Martin insisted that his licensing agreements with several smaller companies, including Shire Post, be maintained as part of his deal with HBO.
The Mint has been manufacturing coins under various full-time licensing arrangements since 2010 and today manufactures over 150 different coins, sold individually or in sets, and produces approximately 100,000 coins per year. Shire Post Mint, formerly located in Springdale, opened its new headquarters in West Fork, just south of Fayetteville, in October. The new location includes manufacturing operations, offices and a retail store.
The company employs around 15 people and also produces its own unique items including jewelry, wax seals and gifts.
Woody Maringer said the Mint has added molds to speed up the casting process and has a new induction furnace and other equipment. He said the space offered by the company’s new site was key in the decision to add the molded products.
So far, the Mint’s casting offerings include orbs with different finishes, from smooth to hammered, to a patina that gives off a “salty cannonball vibe.” There are oversized 20-sided dice, as well as unmarked icosahedra. The products weigh about a pound and a half and measure between an inch and a half and about two inches in diameter. Prices range from around $125 to $175.
Shire Post Mushrooms are cast from scrap copper, hand-hammered, heat-patinated, then set in a wooden base reminiscent of driftwood. They became available on Earth Day, April 22.
Woody Maringer said other cast products were being explored and help from Mint customers in the form of new ideas was pouring in. One of them he is considering is a donut with a bite.
“We intend to do more things,” Maringer said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”