Contemplating The Carson City Mint

As I write these words I am in the midst of working with Jeff Ambio in the cataloging of the Battle Born Collection. This cabinet is a complete panorama of Carson City silver and gold coinage – one of each minted in the dime, 20-cent piece, quarter, half dollar, silver dollar, trade dollar, $5, $10, and $20 series. The 1873-CC No Arrows dime is absolutely unique, giving this collection a firm footing in American numismatic history.

The only time this has happened before was in the Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection, which was complete with every known date and mint from the 1793 half cent to the 1933 $20. The unique 1873-CC No Arrows dime, the one now being offered as part of the Battle Born Collection, was acquired on November 7, 1950, by Mr. Eliasberg and completed his holdings.

The Battle Born name derives from the admission of the state of Nevada to the Union in 1864, while the Civil War was raging (although distant from Nevada Territory). A more familiar nickname for Nevada is the Silver State.

It is interesting to contemplate the popularity of Carson City coinage. It attracted the attention of quite a few collectors over a long period of years, perhaps due to the overall scarcity of the issues and also the availability of certain of them – such as many of the Morgan silver dollars – in Mint State. Low mintage varieties such as 1882-CC, 1883-CC, and 1884-CC, once nearly impossible to find, are now easy enough to locate as in the early 1960s nearly their entire original mintages were found stored in 1,000-coin bags in the Treasury Building in Washington, DC. They had been moved there from storage in the Carson City Mint in 1911.

There are, of course, other mints in America, but hardly anyone has made a specialty in, for example, Denver Mint coinage or New Orleans coinage. The only other mints that have a serious following by numismatic specialists and have attracted, say, several hundred or more enthusiasts, are Charlotte and Dahlonega, which both operated from 1838 until 1861 and only struck gold coins of denominations from $1 to $5. The nice thing about these Dahlonega and Charlotte issues is that while the coins are rare, they are not impossible, and each date and mint variety can be obtained with some patience. The typical grade for a Charlotte and Dahlonega gold coin is Extremely Fine, plus or minus.

Returning to Carson City, the Battle Born Collection has been very stimulating to explore. Along the way we have added quite a bit of interesting historical material. Nevada dealer Rusty Goe, who helped assemble the collection, has showcased these pieces in his books on the Carson City Mint. Our forthcoming presentation as part of the World’s Fair of Money in Philadelphia in August will tell even more.

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