Carson City, to a Coin Collector 8

In 1854, the San Francisco mint opened being the first US mint west of the Mississippi River. They minted gold and silver coins from the precious metals discovered in California.

In 1859, a large deposit of silver and gold ore was discovered near Virginia City, NV, which would be known as the Comstock Lode. Practically overnight, the discovery turned the sleepy town of Virginia City to a city of 15,000. Of course, this post is not about Virginia City.

The Carson City Mint

In 1863, Congress decided to build a mint branch in Carson City to make coins from the Comstock Lode ore. With the Civil War in full force, construction of the mint building was delayed until 1866. It officially opened in December of 1869 and started minting coins in 1870. Just like Gold Coins were being produced in San Francisco from the California Gold Rush, Carson City produced Silver Coins from the Comstock Lode. They would produce Gold Coins as well. Carson City’s mint mark was “CC”, the only mint mark with more than one letter.

Though they minted coins from the dime up, the most popular was the Morgan Dollar. In most years of its Morgan Dollar Carson Cityexistence, Carson City didn’t produce as many of the other mints (Philadelphia, New Orleans and San Francisco) which made them more popular to find.  The ones you are more likely to find are the 1882-CC and 1883-CC Morgan Dollars. Personally, I only have one Carson City coin in my collection, an 1877-CC Seated Liberty Dime that is included in my type set.

The Carson City mint was closed by President Grover Cleveland and the Democratic administration in 1885. Supposedly since silver was worth less than gold, taxpayers paid their bills in silver, but international creditors wanted payment in gold. As a result, the Cleveland administration tried to reduce the amount of silver being minted and put the US under the gold standard. When Cleveland left office, the Carson City mint resumed production in 1889. However, this would be short lived. With the decline of silver coming out of the Comstock Lode, the Carson City mint was closed for good in 1893.

After the Closing of the Mint

The building would become a US assay office until 1933. In 1939, the US Government was sold to the State of Nevada. The state would convert the building into the Nevada State Museum, which is still there today. Included inside the museum is Coin Press No. 1 (the original coin press from the mint). They still use it to produce medallions with the CC mint mark.

Carson City today

Though there was silver being brought to Carson City and becoming Nevada’s state capital in 1864, it didn’t flourish as much as other local towns at the time.  Many Chinese would live there to work on the railroad. Unfortunately, the Central Pacific Railroad ended moving further north where the mining towns were. By 1920, there were less than 2,000 people in Carson City.  Beginning in the 1940’s, Carson City was expanding and by the 1960’s, their population went over 10,000 for the first time. Unlike other cities that was losing people during the 1970’s and 1980’s, Carson City was growing. The 2010 census showed Carson City with over 55,000 inhabitants.

Whatever Happened to Virginia City?

Like I mentioned earlier in this post, Virginia City’s population was increasing as a result of the Comstock Lode. A lot of the Comstock Lode was used to help build San Francisco like the gold in California. Many people were coming to Virginia City in the 1860’s and 1870’s including writer Samuel Clemens, who would change his name to Mark Twain while living there.

In 1875, there was a great fire that destroyed many building and left 2,000 people homeless. The city was rebuilt and continued flourishing until the 1880’s with the decline of the Comstock Lode. People started leaving Virginia City and by the 1920’s, there were less than 1,000 people living there.

Today, Virginia City still has a population under 1,000, but is becoming popular again through tourism.

I Would Like to Visit Carson City someday

I haven’t been to any of the US mint yet, but would like to visit San Francisco and Carson City someday. I want to go to the museum and see the coin press in person. Would you like visit Carson City?

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8 thoughts on “Carson City, to a Coin Collector

  • shelby

    I am an amateur coin collector; I mostly have the coins that my grandparents and I collected together. I have been to the dallas mint once and I really enjoyed the trip. I mostly say the production of bills , but I did see some coins as well. I would very much like to see other mints especially older ones!

    • Kevin Post author

      You must have gone to the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas. The only Federal Reserve Building I have been to was in Boston, but that was for a job interview. That’s nice you got coins from your grandparents. I think that is one of best ways to collect, with your family.

  • Dan

    Yes, I would love to visit Carson City and any other mint. There is just something very fascinating about the making of money. Don’t you agree? The artwork, the whole process and the gobs of money there.
    Great information on Carson City. I also wanted to know more about it and your page does an excellent job of informing people. I have a general question is Carson City mint generally worth more, than other mints? Thanks again!

    • Kevin Post author

      Thanks Dan! I think learning more about coins are fascinating.

      In general, Carson City coins can be rarer than the other mints and are generally worth more. Also, the Carson City mint only minted coins for a short time which adds to the toughness of obtaining them.

  • Entrepren3ur

    There is just something very fascinating about the making of money. Great information on Carson City and on the first US mint opening In San Francisco on 1854 in the west of the Mississippi River. Its crazy how they minted gold and silver coins from metals and how it was discovered in California. There is so much valuable information that I might have to read more and write a paper on gold ansd silver and get some tips from you. Keep up the good info!

    • Kevin Post author

      Thanks! I hope my posts help you with the paper. I knew about California and Nevada, but until recently, I didn’t realize they discovered gold down south before California. Makes sense since they ended up placing US Mint branches down there in the 1830’s.

  • Robert Goddard

    I would totally like check out Carson City. I just visited the site of the New Orleans Mint. It is now a jazz museum, but on the first floor there is an exhibit dedicated to mint operations. There were many coins on display representing all the denominations minted there. Press equipment along with stories about the mint as well. So far the it’s only mint I’ve visited. Well worth it!

    • Kevin Post author

      I’d like to see both buildings in New Orleans and Carson City. Would also like to see the building where the Charlotte mint was originally.