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U.S. Mint History

Inside This Report

• Philadelphia Mint
• Denver Mint
• Carson City Mint
• New Orleans Mint
• Dahlonega Mint
• Charlotte Mint
• Mint History

By 1799, discoveries of Gold had been made in North Carolina and some twenty years later Gold mining was a big industry. The U.S. Mint in Philadelphia was a long, treacherous distance away from the southeastern Gold fields.

Roads were no more than primitive Indian trails filled with outlaws making it almost impossible for miners in the southeast to transport their raw Gold to the U.S. Mint for conversion into official U.S. Gold Coins.

The Private Mint of Christian Bechtler
About the time of the greatest gold production, 1831, Christian Bechtler, a jeweler by trade, who lived near Rutherfordton, North Carolina, proposed to the miners that he coin their Gold for a small percentage. This would save the miners a fortune in time and avoid the risks of sending their gold to Philadelphia. 

A large quantity of Gold was coined into $1, $2.50, and $5 pieces, with the name of C. Bechtler, Rutherfordton, North Carolina, on one side, and on the other side, the value, number of grains, and carat fine. It was not long until the Federal government instituted an investigation into the Bechtler operations. The investigation disclosed that the assay value of the Bechtler coins were in all instances equal, and in some cases greater than the denominational value. 

The Bechtler mint was allowed to continue and Christopher Bechtler continued to operate his minting and coining business.

U.S. Mint History
Current day mints operate the most modern machinery for the manufacture of coins, a marked contrast to the early methods of coining money. The melting departments used coal burning furnaces to smelt the raw Gold and Silver into 90% fine coinage.

After the design of a Gold Coin was approved, the mint staff proceeded to prepare dies made by covering the surface of the die with a thick coating of transfer wax, which, when pressure was applied, transferred the tracing which was in pencil. When the model of the coin was made it was placed on a lathe and reduced to the size desired for the coin. 

The die was approved, then hardened and tempered ready to produce the coins. The Gold ingots varying in sizes and weights were received from the smelter and then broken down into oblong pieces of Gold Strips, by passing the metal through heavy rollers. 

Gold Double Eagles and Eagles were passed through the finishing rollers three times. Half Eagles and Quarter Eagles were passed through the rollers four times. The Gold strips were then taken to cutting presses where the blank Gold pieces were cut to the desired size and weight, then pressed and later transformed into Gold Coins by having the insignia of the United States government and the design of the coin stamped upon it.

In 1782, Thomas Jefferson, than a member of the House of Representatives, recommended a Dollar Unit of Exchange, because it was already at that time familiar to most people and a convenient decimal.

In 1785, the Grand Committee recommended a Five Dollar Gold Piece. In 1791, Alexander Hamilton, then Secretary of the Treasury, accepted the decimal subdivisions of the dollar, and endorsed its use in Gold as our standard money.

The Philadelphia Mint
On March 3, 1791, the  United States Congress, by the passing of a resolution directed that a mint be established. President Washington did not act upon these recommendations until April of 1792. The Gold Coins authorized by the government were as follows:

Gold Eagle Value $10.00 247-4/8 pure Std. Grains 270
Gold Half Value $  5.00 123-6/8 pure Std. Grains 135
Gold Quarter Eagle Value $  2.50    61-7/8 pure Std. Grains 67-4/8

"Ye Old Mint" in PhiladelphiaPresident George Washington appointed a well known scientist, David Rittenhouse, as the first director of the U.S. Mint. A mint building was under construction within a few months in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, located at Seventh and Sugar Alley (now Filbert Street). It was a three story building and bore the familiar sign painted on the building between the second and third floors, “Ye Old Mint”.

The first deposit of gold ingots made in “Ye Old Mint”, came from a Boston merchant by the name of Moses Brown, on February 12, 1795. The amount was reported as $2,275.22. The first gold coins were delivered to the mint by the U.S. Treasurer, July 31, 1795, and the shipment contained 744 half eagles. Speculators in the early days soon hoarded and reduced from circulation most of the first Gold Coins. The Philadelphia Mint, now rebuilt, is still in Operation although no Gold Coins have been produced since 1931.

Dahlonega MintThe Dahlonega, Georgia Mint
The Dahlonega Mint was authorized by Act of March 3, 1835, with first coinage in 1838. Coinage of Gold was suspended in 1861 due to the Civil War and never resumed. The building passed out of government possession in 1871.

$6,115,569 in gold coins were produced in this mint. The total amount of gold reported mined in the area was approximately $18 Million Dollars. The mint building was donated to the State of Georgia purposes on April 29, 1871, but was destroyed by fire, December 20, 1878.

The Dahlonega Mint produced 75,529 - $1 Gold Coins; 197,859 $2.50 Gold Coins; in 1854, there were 1,120 - $3 Gold Coins produced, and a total of 1,107211 - $5 Gold Coins produced. There were many other Gold Coins reported coined in this mint, but not on record. Many people believe that a large quantity of these coins were buried and never recovered.

Charolotte Mint The Charlotte, North Carolina Mint
The Charlotte Mint was authorized by the Act of March 3, 1835.  Coinage operations were conducted there from 1838 through May 20, 1861.

The operations were discontinued due to the Civil War and never resumed. The mint property was reopened as an assay office in 1868, and ceased operations June 13, 1913, when the plant was closed.

New Orleans MintThe New Orleans, Louisiana Mint
The New Orleans Mint was authorized by the Act of March 3, 1835. It first produced coins in 1838. Operations were suspended from 1861 to 1879, however, it continued its assay operations from 1876.

Coinage resumed in 1879, and continued until 1909. It operated as an assay office from 1909 unit 1942, when it was permanently closed.  At one time this mint was used as a federal prison. This mint also was taken over by the Confederate Army During the Civil War and some Confederate coins were produced there.

San Francisco Mint The San Francisco Mint
The San Francisco Mint was established by authorization of the Act of July 3,1852. The first coinage was recorded in 1854. Coinage operations were suspended in 1955, but the mint continued to operate as an assay office. The name was officially changed from “Mint” to “Assay Office” on July 11, 1962.

The Denver Mint
Denver Mint
The Denver Mint was authorized by the Act of April 21, 1862, and it operated as an assay office until 1906. Coinage operations were started at the Denver Mint in 1906, and the mint is still in operation. Many of the new Statehood Quarters and small circulating coins are minted by the millions each year at the Denver Mint

The Carson City Mint
The Carson City Mint was authorized by the Act of March 3, 1863. Coinage operations started in 1870 and lasted through 1893. The mint then operated as an assay office until 1933 when it was closed. 
Carson City Mint
The Carson City Mint issued 57 different types of Gold Coins. In addition to the many millions of dollars in Gold Coins produced at this mint, it also received many millions of dollars in Gold Bullion which it converted into Gold Bars shipping them to the mint at San Francisco for coinage. After this mint was closed by the government, the building was allowed to run down with floors and roof rotten, to the extent that repairs were not feasible. 

The U.S. government then placed this property on the market for sale and it was purchased by the State of Nevada in 1939 for $10,000. It was renovated and opened to the public by the State in October, 1941, as a State Museum and Art Institute. The mining industry of Nevada donated an entire new copper roof for this building at a cost of about $4,000.

Today, Carson City coins are among the rarest and most beloved U.S. Coins and highly prized for their "CC" mint marks.

To purchase coins from any of these mints, call 1-800-928-6468 to speak to a Rare Coin Specialist from Austin Rare Coins & Bullion.


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