1870-CC Half Dollar - 1870-CC 50C NGC AU50+. This rare, Western branch mint 1870-CC Half Dollar has eye-appealing, lightly toned surfaces with bright mint luster remaining in protected areas. The surfaces are a combination of gray and teal while the devices shimmer with light russet and gold. These colors attest to the coin’s originality. The surfaces are extremely clean for the grade with no notable abrasion marks or other distractions. The coin has an above average strike with full details on the centers of the stars, Liberty’s head, and the eagle’s head, neck and shield. NGC gives the “plus” grade to coins of premium quality that are at the high end of the assigned grade range with above average eye-appeal.
Christian Gobrecht designed the Seated Liberty half dollar. The obverse depicts Liberty seated looking over her shoulder to the left. She balances the Union Shield inscribed LIBERTY with her right hand and holds a staff on which is placed a Phrygian cap in her left. There are seven stars to the left and six to the right interrupted by her head and the capped pole. The date is below. The reverse shows the heraldic eagle looking left. It is surrounded by the required inscription and the denomination written as HALF DOL. below. Dentils are around the periphery of both sides of the coin. In 1866 a banner showing the motto IN GOD WE TRUST was added to the reverse.
Both before and during the Civil War almost a dozen Protestant denominations pressured Congress to add references to God to the Constitution and other government documents. Reverend Mark Richards Watkinson was the first to write to Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase to request that God’s name be added to our coinage. His suggestion for a motto was “God, Liberty, Law.” Chase ordered Mint Director James Pollock to prepare a suitable motto. Pollock’s suggestions included “Our Trust Is In God,” “Our God And Our Country,” and “God Our Trust.” Then Chase decided on “In God We Trust” to be added to most of the nation’s coinage. This motto was a subtle reminder that the North considered itself on the side of God with regard to the issue of slavery. A new law was required to allow the motto to be added since previous acts of Congress specified the mottos and devices that were permitted on coins. The new motto was placed on all coins that were deemed large enough to accommodate it.
Gobrecht became the third Chief Engraver at the United States Mint. He was born in Hanover, Pennsylvania in 1785. His father was a German immigrant, and his mother traced her ancestry to the early settlers of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Gobrecht married Mary Hewes in 1818. One of his early positions was as an engraver of clocks in Baltimore. Later he went to Philadelphia where he became a banknote engraver. He invented a machine that allowed one to convert a three-dimensional medal into an illustration. In 1826 Gobrecht did his first work for the Mint as an assistant to William Kneass. After Kneass suffered a debilitating stroke, Gobrecht did all the die and pattern work for the Mint. He became Chief Engraver in 1840 and served until his death in 1844. He was famous for his Liberty Seated motif, which was used for all denominations of silver coinage including the half-dime, dime, quarter dollar, half dollar and silver dollar. He also designed the Liberty Head gold eagle, a motif that was also used on the half-cent, the cent, the gold quarter eagle, and the gold half eagle.
Authorized in 1863, the Carson City Mint began coinage in 1870 and continued until 1893. It was then operated as a government assay office until 1933 when it was closed as a cost cutting measure. During its operation it made fifty-seven different types of gold coins. It also converted gold bullion and oar into gold bars, which were shipped to San Francisco for coinage there. Coins issued from the Carson City used the CC mint mark. Originally established to convert silver from the Comstock Lode to coinage, the Carson City Mint also processed gold in to gold coins.
When first discovered, gold and silver found in Nevada had to be shipped over the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the branch mint in San Francisco. This trip was dangerous and expensive. The Nevada mine owners asked Congress to establish a branch of the mint in their state, and legislation was enacted in 1863. Carson City was chosen as the location for the mint facility because it was near some of the major mining sites. The first coin produced was the Liberty Seated 1870-CC dollar. A person who had deposited silver at the mint received 2,303 silver dollars. Shortly afterwards, gold eagles, half eagles and double eagles were struck.
Between 1870 and 1873, mintage at Carson City was limited because of political reasons. The Mint Superintendent, H.F. Rice was dismissed because of claims that the mint issued some light weight and debased coins. Rice could have been executed. This partly verified information led to frequently seen edge test marks on the gold pieces of this period. Those who wanted the Carson City Mint closed use this discovery to urge the closing. Their real motive was that they wanted the lucrative shipping contracts to move the oar to San Francisco.
The 1870-CC half dollar is a rare coin with a fabulous history. In its population report, NGC shows 1, the present coin, in AU50+ with 3 better.
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