The historic six-ton coin press at the Nevada State Museum was brought to life Friday to mint a new medallion celebrating 100 years since the founding of Goldfield -- once Nevada's largest city.
On the front of the coin is a full-figure image of Native American prospector Harry Stimler, one of the discoverers of Goldfield in December of 1902. On the back is an image of Coin Press No. 1 -- the very press they are minted on.
The medallions, designed by Carson City's Marjorie Marshall, are being minted in silver, brass and gold-plate.
The now quiet town of Goldfield is being honored for its important role in the history of the Silver State, according to Museum Curator Bob Nylen.
"Tonopah and Goldfield really stimulated the economy of our state after the Comstock played out," he said.
Operating the press was Ken Hopple, a museum volunteer from Reno. Wearing a pair of magnifying jeweler's goggles and white gloves, Hopple would press two buttons to start the machine, which uses 140 tons of pressure and three dies to mint the coins. His wife Karen would package them in clear plastic holders.
"In 1875, women did quality control and they're still doing quality control today," she said.
The couple operates the press on the last Friday of every month, and the public is welcome to watch.
The press, built by Morgan & Orr of Philadelphia, arrived in Carson in 1869 to mint the silver coming out of the Comstock. When the arch over the press cracked in 1878, machinists at the Virginia & Truckee Railroad shop made a new one. Proud metal workers attached a brass plate with the V&T name.
After the Carson City mint ceased coining operations in 1893, Press No. 1 was moved to the U.S. mint in Philadelphia where it was used until 1945. It was transferred to the mint in San Francisco that year and used for 10 years before it was set to be scrapped. Partly because of the brass V&T plate, however, the press found its way back to Carson in 1958. The press was retired and displayed at the State Museum -- once Carson City's U.S. Mint -- until a coin shortage in 1964 brought it back to life. It was used to mint 188 million quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies over the next three years in Denver.
"It's quite a treasure that the state has," Nylen said.
Another volunteer on scene Friday was docent Anna McMillian.
"It's a very interesting job and it's fun to be able to show the people our wares," she said.
If You Go
What: Coin minting
Where: Nevada State Museum, 600 N. Carson Street
When: Last Friday of every month