Carson City Mint History. The state of Nevada was once part of the Utah Territory, and known as Carson County. The first settlers arrived in Eagle Valley in 1851, establishing a trading post for the great 'gold' migrations to California. Most of the settlers returned to Salt Lake City with the ebbing of the California Gold Rush, and an empty Eagle Valley was ultimately purchased for $500 and some horses by New Yorker Abraham Curry and friends. Curry founded Carson City (named after the trailblazer Kit Carson) in 1858, but his wildest dreams of building a city could never have envisioned the growth that would follow the 1859 discovery of the Comstock Lode. The Comstock was probably the richest deposit of silver ore ever found.
At first, the silver ore (and smaller quantities of gold) was shipped over the Sierra Nevada Range to the San Francisco Mint, at great expense. Mine operators lobbied Congress for a branch mint in Nevada itself, after being rejected by Mint Director James Pollock. The Nevada Mint Bill was passed by both the House and the Senate on March 3, 1863, but didn't stipulate a location for the new mint. Colorado Congressman H. P. Bennett, authorized to find a suitable location, was successfully lobbied by Abe Curry to select the Territorial capital Carson City, centrally located to all of the mines. A lot was purchased in February of 1865, and a commission (including Curry) was appointed to oversee the building project. Due to continuing opposition by the Treasury Department, it was July 1866 before plans and authorizing documents arrived in Carson City. The cornerstone was laid September 24, 1866. Curry was named as the contractor, but it became evident that the $150,000 appropriated was insufficient due to the costs of transporting materials to Carson City. Curry spent much of 1868 in Washington and Philadelphia trying to procure additional funds.
Machinery for the Carson City
Mint--exceedingly heavy coin presses, blanking presses, and
rolling mills--were shipped by sea around the Horn, most of
it arriving in late 1868. Curry became the first Superintendent
of the Carson City Mint, and began testing his equipment during
1869, but waited impatiently for the arrival of dies from Philadelphia.
Tests of the machinery were conducted at various times during 1869, but the dies didn't arrive from Philadelphia until January 10, 1870. The first coins struck were Liberty Seated silver dollars, on February 11, 1870, followed shortly thereafter by gold eagles. The first double eagles were struck on March 10. Curry resigned as Superintendent in September to run for lieutenant governor. Mintages during these early years of the Carson City Mint were lower than anticipated, because many mine owners still preferred to use the San Francisco Mint or to keep their output in ingot form. Production from the Nevada mines fell during the early 1890s, and on June 1, 1893, Mint Director Preston ceased coining operations. The facility served occasionally as an Assay Office, and in 1941 it became the home of the Nevada State Museum.
The original Coin Press No. 1 is currently located in the Old Mint Building portion of the Nevada State Museum. Built in 1869 by Morgan & Orr of Philadelphia, it weighs 12,000 pounds and in 1879 was capable of producing 1,500 coins per hour. It is believed this same press was used to mint the 1870-CC double eagles as well. After the Carson City Mint closed in 1893, Coin Press #1 journeyed to the Philadelphia Mint, then in 1945 to San Francisco, back to Carson City in 1958, to the Denver Mint in 1964, and finally home again to the Carson City museum in 1967.
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