Minting history to help preserve it

Hugh Roy Marshall came to Virginia City and bought a restaurant/bar/hotel and made a mint out of it. Literally.

The old assay office on C Street, which used to be a bar, restaurant and rooming house, eventually became the Marshall Mint after it was purchased in 1986.

It's where pure silver and gold medallions and ingots are made and sold, along with fine jewelry.

The work at the Marshall Mint is such that Bob Nylen, curator of history at the Nevada State Museum recommended it for the pressing of the special Railway Reflections International Art Expo ingot.

An ingot is a piece of metal that is pressed into another shape.

Artist Steven Saylor said the silver ingot will have the Saylor-created logo for Railway Reflections on one side and a drawing of a V&T steam engine crossing the old Crown Point trestle in Gold Hill on the other.

One hundred ingots will be pressed as soon as the dies are completed, Marshall said.

The ingots will be sold for $100 each, and will come in a display case with a numbered card for authenticity.

Marshall said the ingots will be pressed on a DiMao press, a piece of equipment manufactured in Italy in the early 1950s that can stamp a medallion or ingot on both sides.

"It's a custom-type press for doing proof coins," Marshall explained.

The silver ingots begin with a rough coating so that when the press comes down on it, it leaves a very polished impression, Marshall said.

He added the DiMao press can press 150 medallions per hour, and handles all the ingots and medallions the Marshall Mint has for sale. It can press up to 5 ounces of silver or gold at one time. The mint is known for their "Angel of the Day" medallions, but has also been used to create gold and silver ingots and larger, flat products.

"We will be expanding our press operation to do larger bars," Marshall said, adding they use 600 pounds of pressure to create the larger bars.

The mint plans to create 10- to 50-inch-thick products of gold and silver, to be done on a larger press located in the old Sierra Pacific substation building.

The store itself is undergoing renovation and one side is being fitted with a special case with bomb-proof glass to hold Marshall's collection of gold nuggets, some of which weigh as much as five pounds.

"I have had the nuggets for a long time, but I'm afraid to put them out because someone might steal them," he said.

Marshall said he and his wife, Cynthia, who own the Con-Virginia Mining Co. became intrigued with the minting process and set about learning how to do it.

They've been trained by the Royal Mint of Great Britain, he said.

The Marshall Mint has done a number of ingot series, including one of the Bonanza Silver Kings, the Nevada state ingot and custom work for the Nevada Association of Counties and military groups, churches and museums.

Saylor said that experience made the Marshall Mint a good choice for the ingots, which will not only raise money this year, but in future years.

"We'll do 100 this year, and 100 next year," he said. "People who buy this year will have first right of refusal for next year's coins."

Though the minting and the Ales for Rails fundraiser at Marshall's Ramada Inn Virginia City were to take place this weekend, Marshall said the events were canceled because they want to do them together, and the ingot die is not yet ready.

"If we had done it, it would be ready," Marshall said of the die, which is being made at the state museum.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or call 881-7351.

How to Get an ingot

To reserve ingots or purchase tickets to Railway Reflections events, call the Northern Nevada Railway foundation at 885-6833.

On the Net

www.railwayreflections.org

www.marshallmint.com

More Railway Reflections events

There will be a Railway Reflections event in Virginia City on Friday and Sunday, when the Misfits perform "The Perils of Pusher or Building the V&T" a melodrama, at 7:30 p.m. today and Sunday at Piper's Opera House. Tickets are $10 and all proceeds benefit the V&T restoration.

Another fundraising event this weekend is Saturday's concert by Kevin Cadogan, former songwriter and lead guitarist for the rock band Third Eye Blind at Piper's Opera House.

Saylor said Cadogan, who is married to the artist's goddaughter, Angela Jacoboni, plays contemporary rock and has been nominated for a Grammy award and earned platinum records when he was with the band.

"He's going to play new songs, and old Third Eye Blind hits for the first time since he left the band," Saylor said.

Tickets are $25 and can be obtained by calling Piper's Opera House at 847-0433.

Another movie in the Railways Reflections Film Festival takes place at 6 p.m. on Thursday with "Emperor of the North," and on Aug. 14 with "Carson City." Tickets are $5 and guest speakers introduce each movie, which showcase original V&T equipment.

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