The U.S. Mint Coins:
The 1849 California Gold Rush was one of the defining moments in American history. Hundreds of tons of gold dust and crudely refined bars were loaded onto ships daily for the long and dangerous journey to Philadelphia, to be minted into coins. The gold that survived the journey was then subjected to long delays, as the Philadelphia Mint struggled to process what became a tidal wave of gold.
Discussions began for a U.S. Mint branch in San Francisco in 1850, as soon as the extent of the gold rush became apparent. It wasn't until two years later that Congress authorized the funds and construction began. The little Mint in downtown San Francisco opened in 1854 and churned out an amazing $4 million face value of gold coinage in its first twelve months, but it was soon apparent that a larger facility was needed.
The second San Francisco Mint opened its doors in 1874. Known as “The Granite Lady,” it still stands as a famous city landmark. It was one of the few buildings that survived the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, and the firestorm afterward. At the time of the earthquake, it held one-third of all United States gold reserves, the loss of which would have crippled the nation. In 1937, the San Francisco Mint moved into its present building.
Minting was suspended in San Francisco in 1955. The facility was designated a U.S. Assay Office in 1962, and in 1988 was finally reclassified as a Mint again. Even though it was technically not a mint at the time, San Francisco resumed coin production in 1968, of both proof and circulating coins. Minting of circulating coinage ended in 1974, but the San Francisco Mint still produces proof coins in both clad and precious metals. Due to the explosive demand for the American Silver Eagle after the global financial crisis, San Francisco began supplementing the production of the West Point Mint in 2011 by striking bullion American Silver Eagles as demand required.
The San Francisco Mint uses the “S” mint mark. Public tours are not available.