Why the Carson City Mint Was Abandoned
Carson City is only one of seven cities in the past 200 years to be home to a United States Mint. Compared to metropolises such as Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver, Carson City, located in northern Nevada, seemed both tiny and in the middle of nowhere. But it had something that the other cities didn’t have — it was sitting next to the Comstock Lode.
The Comstock Lode was the first major discovery of silver ore in the United States. After prospectors stumbled on the massive deposits of silver, the media swept in and kicked off a “Silver Rush” to the area just 11 years after the initial California Gold Rush. Fortunes were made in the fields and lost in the saloons as the rough-and-ready mining camps mushroomed into cities built on the fabulous wealth of the lucky few.
Although Congress established the Carson City Mint in 1863, the Civil War delayed its construction until 1866. As the impressive sandstone edifice was completed in late 1869, President Ulysses S. Grant named Abraham Curry, the founder and chief proponent of Carson City, as the mint’s first superintendent. Minting began in 1870, just six years after Nevada became the 36th state, and by the end of that year, Curry had supervised the production of nearly 100,00 gold and silver coins that all bore the new “CC” mark.
Over the next quarter-decade, the Carson City mint coined more than $49 million worth of gold coins and silver coins, including the $20 Double Eagle, the $10 Gold Eagle, and the $5 Half Eagle. In addition, the famed Morgan silver dollar, half-dollars, quarters, 20-cent pieces and dimes were also minted from the silver mined at the Comstock. In fact, the most valuable coin minted at Carson City is the only known surviving dime from an 1873 run of just over 12,000. Today, it’s worth about $3.5 million.
By the late-1890s, the silver boom was over and mining dramatically decreased at the Comstock, leading to the withdrawal of the Carson City U.S. Mint’s formal mint status in 1899. After being in danger of demolition for a number of years, the beautiful sandstone building was purchased by the state and remodeled to serve as the Nevada State Museum in 1941.
The mint’s Press No. 1 still resides at the museum, and visitors can see it in operation on the last Friday of each month. This year, the Couer Rochester Mining Company donated a 1,000-ounce silver bar to the state in celebration of Nevada’s sesquicentennial. It’s currently on display at the Nevada State Museum, and will be minted into 1,000 commemorative medallions on Press No. 1, ensuring that while the Carson City mint is no longer a formal U.S. mint, the fascinating history it preserves is still very much alive.
Interested in learning more about the history of U.S coins and currency, including rare coins, gold coins and silver coins? Come talk with the coin enthusiasts at West Seattle Coins and Bellevue Rare Coins in West Seattle, Bellevue and Lynnwood.
West Seattle Coins and Bellevue Rare Coins specialize in gold buying and dealing in rare coins. We are a family-owned business that was first established in 1979 and is now located in West Seattle, Bellevue and Lynnwood. We also buy and sell gold, silver, diamonds, currency and jewelry. Visit us first for a free evaluation.
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