Carson City Mint
The United States Mint branch in Nevada's capital of Carson City was built in 1869 to service the massive gold and silver strikes in the Comstock Lode. The Mint produced gold and silver coins from 1870 through 1893, with a hiatus between 1885 and 1889. The building continued as an assay office until 1933, and was sold to the state of Nevada in 1939. It is now home to the Nevada State Museum, where the restored original 1870 Coining Press #1 can be seen operating for special events.
Coins minted in Carson City, carrying the CC mint mark, are highly sought after due to their scarcity. Production never reached the levels of the other Mints. A little more than 56 million coins of all types were struck from 1870 to 1893, making some issues extremely rare.
History of the Carson City Mint
The Carson City Mint would probably never have existed without the political savvy of the citizens of Nevada, who worked to make it a reality. Lobbying for a branch US Mint in Carson City began in 1861, before Nevada had even become a state. The Carson City Mint was initially authorized by Congress in 1863, but the expenses of the Civil War meant the money for construction was deferred until 1865.
The cornerstone of the Mint was laid on September 24, 1866, and construction was completed in 1869, at a cost of over a half million dollars, more than triple the original $150,000 estimate. The Mint building was constructed entirely of native Nevada stone and wood. Due to its remote location, the coin presses and heavy equipment for the Mint had to be sent by sea to California, then overland to Carson City. The building contractor was soon vindicated over the delays and expenses incurred. On December 28, 1869, just before the Mint was scheduled to open, a large earthquake hit Carson City. Many buildings were severely damaged, but the newly-completed sandstone and brick Mint was undamaged.
On February 10, 1870, the first coins produced at the Carson City Mint. 2,303 Seated Liberty silver dollars were struck, which were all purchased the next day by a single buyer. The silver dollars were followed by 1,644 gold eagle $10 coins. Production of gold and silver coins continued for fifteen years, until the Mint’s political backers in Washington lost power in 1885. The Mint re-opened in 1889, but coinage operations ended for good in 1893, due to drastically decreased output from the local mines. In all, the Carson City Mint minted eight different denominations of silver and gold coins bearing the “CC” mint mark from 1870 to 1893, ranging from dimes to $20 double eagle gold pieces, all made from metal mined from the Comstock Lode.
The facility continued as a U.S. Assay Office for 40 more years, refining ore and sending gold bars to the San Francisco Mint until 1933
The empty Carson City Mint building was scheduled for demolition, but once again the citizens of Nevada rallied around their mint, resulting in its purchase by the state of Nevada in 1939. The building re-opened as the Nevada State Museum in 1941, and is open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays.
No. 1 Minting Press
Minting Press No. 1 arrived at the Carson City Mint in the spring of 1869. A six-ton steam-powered press manufactured by the world's leading coin press company of Morgan & Orr of Philadelphia, Press No.1 served faithfully at Carson City until coining was discontinued in 1893. In 1899, Carson City lost its status as a U.S. Mint branch, and Press No.1 was sent to the San Francisco Mint. Converted to electrical power in 1930, it soldiered on until 1955, when San Francisco stopped coining operations. Slated to be scrapped, Press No.1 was rescued by the state of Nevada for $225 and returned to the old Carson City Mint building (which was now a museum) in 1958. The museum refurbished the old press and used it for display purposes until 1964, when the Director of the U.S. Mint asked to borrow it.
Due to the plan to stop using silver in U.S. coins, the public began hoarding them, leading to a nationwide coin shortage. Old Press No.1 was trucked to the Denver Mint, and “pressed” into emergency service. It made over 188 million U.S. coins in three years at Denver, before returning home in 1967. Possibly the last of its kind, and certainly the last in working condition, Press No.1 can be seen in its original home in the Old Mint in Carson City. On the last Friday of every month, it goes to work, minting new Carson City Mint memorial medallions with the CC mint mark.
|Face Value||Type / Date||Amount Of Coins Made|
|10¢||Seated Liberty (1871-1878)||20,912,588 coins|
|20¢||Seated Liberty (1875-1876)||143,290 coins|
|25¢||Seated Liberty (1870-1878)||10,330,542 coins|
|50¢||Seated Liberty (1870-1873)||5,307,627 coins|
|$1||Seated Liberty (1870-73) Trade (1873-85) Morgan (1878-1893)||17,996,729 coins|
|$5||Liberty Head Half Eagle (1870-1884, 1890-1893)||709,617 coins|
|$10||Liberty Head Eagle (1870-1884, 1890-1893)||299,778 coins|
|$20||Liberty Head Double Eagle (1870-1885, 1889-1893)||864,128 coins|
The Coins of the Carson City Mint
There were 50 distinct issues of silver coins, and 57 issues of gold coins produced at the Carson City Mint throughout its career. There was a total of about 56.5 million silver and gold coins produced at Carson City, in eight denominations. The total face value was more than $49 million.
The rarest Carson City coin is only known existing example of the 1873 “No Arrows” Seated Liberty dime with the CC mint mark. Only 12,400 dimes were made at Carson City that year, and this “sole survivor” is worth $3.5 million.
The “GSA Hoard” Carson City Morgan Dollars
Prior to 1964, U.S. citizens could redeem paper money “silver certificates” for silver dollars on demand. In 1962, someone who redeemed a silver certificates for silver dollars received a rare and valuable Morgan dollar. This started a “run” on the Treasury, with people standing in line with boxes full of silver certificates to redeem for silver dollars, in an attempt to also hit the jackpot.
The government started pulling silver certificates from circulation in 1963, and in March 1964 stopped redeeming them for silver dollars. During the mad rush for silver dollars, mint-sealed bags of silver dollars from deep in the Treasury vaults were discovered and opened. Many of these bags contained Morgan dollars struck at the Carson City Mint. Realizing their scarcity, the Treasury Department set those aside instead of using them to fill face-value redemptions of silver certificates. There were a little over 2.8 million Carson City silver dollars found in total in the Treasury vaults.
In 1969, the government gave the General Services Administration (GSA) the responsibility for selling this CC Morgans to the public. Known as the “GSA Hoard,” these Morgans were sold in a series of mail bid sales from 1972 to 1980, and made some previously rare dates only scarce. For the next ten to twenty years, these coins did not carry any premium if left in the original GSA holders, and most of the high-quality ones were broken out of the holders to be submitted to PCGS or NGC for grading.
Today, these GSA Hoard coins are the best source of high-quality Carson City Morgan dollars, and those graded by PCGS or NGC are guaranteed authentic. You can purchase Morgan dollars including the Carson City Morgan dollars from Gainesville Coins.