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 the Carson City Mint 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 Mint 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 Carson City coin was the Liberty
Seated 1870-CC dollar. A person who had deposited silver at
the mint received 2303 silver dollars. Shortly afterwards,
gold eagles, half eagles and double eagles were struck. The
Carson City Mint did not strike coins made of copper or nickel,
and it never struck half dimes, gold dollars, quarter eagles,
or three dollar gold coins.
In 1873 silver was demonetized; however,
the Bland-Allison act of 1878 required the Treasury Department
to coin two to four million sliver dollars each month. The
act attempted to keep silver at artificially high levels.
Large quantities of Morgan Dollars were minted, but they did
not circulate well and were kept in Treasury storage vaults.
In 1884 Democrat Grover Cleveland became
president. He fired all the Republican appointees including
the top officials at the Carson City Mint and shut it down.
A year later it reopened as an assay office. When Republican
Benjamin Harrison became president, he fired Cleveland’s
appointees and replaced them with Republicans. In 1889 coining
operations at Carson City resumed.
In 1890 the Sherman Silver Purchase Act modified
the Bland-Allison Act. Under it the government was required
to purchase 4.5 million ounces of silver per month which was
to be paid with bonds that could be redeemed for gold or silver.
Much to the surprise of the officials, most bond holders chose
gold, which depleted the government’s gold reserve.
This instability caused the panic of 1893, which led to the
repeal of the Sherman Act and slowed the production of silver
dollars. At the same time the Nevada mines were no longer
as plentiful as they had been before. Combined with a low
silver price, a scandal (a worker tried to smuggle gold out
of the mint in his lunch box), and a struggling economy, the
Mint Director, Robert Preston, ordered the Carson City Mint
as a coining facility closed in 1893.