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Carson City: The Mint of the Wild West

2021-03-08 17:33:00
Carson City: The Mint of the Wild West
Posted in: News, News

Carson City: The Mint of the Wild West

In 1859, stunning news came out of Virginia City, Nevada: a massive lode of silver ore had been discovered under the eastern slope of Mount Davidson. This new discovery, known as the Comstock Lode, promised incredible fortunes for miners and those involved in the silver industry. One major hurdle with the Comstock Lode, however, was that the nearest mint was located over 200 miles away in San Francisco. That meant in order to strike any of this silver into legal currency, thousands of tons of the precious metal would have to be transported on a perilous journey over the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Having run into this issue previously during the California and Southern Gold Rushes, the US Mint knew exactly what to do. Rather than ship the silver ore hundreds of miles to the nearest mint, a new mint would be established. Abraham Curry, the founder of Carson City, was instrumental in persuading Congress to choose his town as the new mint’s location as it was located just a few miles south of the mines.

Though the Mint was formally authorized by Congress in March of 1863, the Civil War prevented its construction from beginning until 1866. Alfred Mullet, the man who would later design the famous “Granite Lady” building of the San Francisco Mint, was put in charge of designing the mint. Three years later, on December 13th, 1869, the Carson City Mint formally opened its doors for the first time. For his role in the legislation and construction of the mint, Abraham Curry was made its very first superintendent.

With its Renaissance Revival-style stone facade, the sandstone building was an attractive addition to the growing city. The very first coins to be struck at the Mint were the 1870-CC Seated Liberty Silver Dollars, with just 12,462 examples produced. In total, the Carson City Mint issued fifty-seven different types of gold coins and eight different denominations. The most famous coins to come from the Carson City Mint are the CC-mintmark Morgan Dollars, considered by many to be the most desirable coins in the entire Morgan dollar series.

The rarest coin from the Carson City Mint is the 1873-CC “Without Arrows” Seated Liberty Dime, with only one known example. Other coins, such as the 1873-CC “Without Arrows” Seated Liberty Quarter and the 1870-CC Liberty Head Gold Double Eagle have as few as five surviving examples. With far fewer coins struck at the Carson City Mint than at the more prolific Philadelphia or San Francisco Mints, CC-mintmark coins are often far rarer than those from other mints in the same series.

Compared to other mints, the Carson City Mint operated for a much shorter period of time. The mint only ran to 1885, went on a hiatus until 1889. Due to the decline in mining of the Comstock Lode, the Carson City Mint closed its doors for good in 1893. The facility, however, continued to operate as an assay office until 1933, and was later sold to the state of Nevada for $10,000. Today, the Carson City Mint serves as the Nevada State Museum, with thousands of visitors coming every year to view the Silver State’s rich history.

All told, the Carson City Mint struck over fifty-six million coins, with a total face value close to $50 million. Due to its location away from the more developed coasts of the country, the Carson City Mint exudes an aura of Wild West glamor. The coins struck at the Carson City Mint filled the pockets of cowboys and ranchers and were traded back and forth in gambling saloons across the frontier. Many collectors interested in Wild West memorabilia become drawn to the Carson City Mint, seeking to capture some of that untamed frontier flair.

At Rare Collectibles TV, we offer several different coins with the illustrious Carson City mint-mark, including Morgan dollars from the famous GSA hoard.