Even during the most difficult economic times, someone's making money.
This adage couldn't be more true, both literally and figuratively, than it is this week in Carson City.
As area numismatists are already well aware, this is National Coin Week.
Whether you're looking through loose change for a newly minted Nevada state quarter or you're Rusty Goe, owner of Reno-based Southgate Coins - who last week purchased an 1871 gold piece from the Carson City mint for $414,000, this week is literally one for the books for coin collectors.
"I think it's a (hobby) that's really starting to pick up a lot of new enthusiasts," Goe said. "We have just a wide variety of customers. We have children on a budget, and we stock items to get kids started. And we have long-time collectors who have coins worth tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars."
No matter the collector's experience level, Goe said, one lesson is learned quickly for Northern Nevada hobbyists.
"Carson City is more than a special place," he said. "For many, it's the epicenter of their coin world."
The Carson City Mint's Coin Press No. 1 operated continuously from 1870-85 and again from 1889-93, according to the Nevada State Museum. It has also operated on a limited basis over the years, producing coins for three years beginning in 1964, and was again pressed into service to make bicentennial medals in 1976, according to the museum.
This year's coin week is celebrated through Saturday at the Nevada State Museum.
Events range from a display of coins of the Comstock, to the operation of Historic Coin Press No. 1.
"It just so happens that this year's national coin week does take on special meaning here," said Bob Nylen, the museum's curator of history. "This is our (city's) 150th anniversary. And the mint is such an integral part of what put Carson on the map."
Tonight at 7:30, Nylen will give a lecture on Abraham Curry, one of Carson City's founding fathers who is credited as being instrumental in bringing the mint here and served as its first director.
"Coin (week) is a natural time to moment Carson's place in history -and Curry embodies that," Nylen said. "Though he died at 58, he lived to see his dream, to see the community develop and grow - to get a mint here."
Goe underscored the importance of having the mint in his "backyard" to the health of his business.
"It really means a lot to me," he said. "All the publicity the mint can get, is not just good for my business - it's good for Carson.
"I (know) the convention and visitors bureau was trying to decide how to brand Carson City and I'm thinking, 'what about the mint?' When people see a coin with the double 'cc' stamp on it - especially those famous silver dollars - they get a look back in the past, a look back on the gilded age of thin country. They get a peek into the last quarter of the 19th century: The Comstock Lode, Mark Twain, the railroads ... the gold rush. These coins have preserved that history."
The museum's collection of Carson City mint coins feature 109 of 111 coins that make up the entire set.
The coins have attracted international interest.
"I put out a quarterly newsletter just on Carson City coins and it goes to Japan. You can't tell me there isn't a great interest," Goe said.
Though the mint has been dormant for more than a century, its legacy belies the dollar's recent tumble.
Carson City silver dollars, some 2.9 million of which the government put up for sale to collectors from 1972-80, now range in price from $210 to more than $450,000.
"The saying when they were released in the '70s was '90 percent silver, 100 percent history,'" Goe said. "Now if that isn't a slogan for Carson City, I don't know what is."
• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.
National Coin Week at a glance
Tonight: Bob Nylen, curator of history, speaking on Abraham Curry, founder and promoter of Carson City from 7:30-8:30 p.m. at the museum.
Thursday: Local coin dealer and author Rusty Goe will give a lecture on Carson City's lifestyle and entertainment during the mint's glory years 7 p.m. at the Carson City Library.
Friday: The museum's Historic Coin Press No. 1 will operate in celebration of National Coin Week at 11:30 a.m. A special commemorative medallion will be minted in honor of the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Fallon. In the afternoon, a new Liberty Bell .999-fine silver medallion will be minted for the first time to commemorate the Fey Family slot machine collection, which is on display at the museum.
• "Carson City: A Numismatic El Dorado," a display on coins of the Comstock and the Carson City Mint by Will Robins is on exhibit at the museum. Robins, 16, is active in the American Numismatic Association.
• A 17-minute video on the history of the Carson City Mint will show throughout the week in the museum's Mint Theatre; the museum's "cc" coin collection, one of the finest numismatic Carson City Mint coin collections in the world, will be on display.
• Raffle tickets are on sale for coin-related prizes, including a grand prize of an 1882, 1883 and 1884 Carson City Silver Dollar set with certificates of authenticity, donated by Southgate Coins. The drawing will take place during the Coin Education Fair in August.