Carson City celebrates Mint’s 150th anniversary

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The Nevada State Museum demonstrated to the public on Tuesday that maintaining coinage mint will never go out of style in its sesquicentennial celebration of the Carson City Mint.

Gov. Steve Sisolak, Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall, U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, U.S. Mint Director David Ryder and other local dignitaries joined in the 150th anniversary that included opening remarks from Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell, a keynote address from Ryder, tours of the Mint building and first strikes of the sesquicentennial medallion on Coin Press No. 1.

Only eight U.S. cities have operated mints in the nation’s history, of which the Carson City’s facility operated between 1870 and 1893. Coin Press No. 1 served the Mints in Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver before returning to Carson City.

Crowell opened the day with remarks along with Ryder, who rang a bell crafted by the W. T. Garratt Co. of San Francisco that was rung to mark the opening of the business day of the mint. Crowell then invited the public into the Mint building, which was opened by the museum for tours to witness strikes of the new medallion.

Myron Freedman, director of the Nevada State Museum, said Carson City holds a special historical significance by maintaining the original Mint with an original coin press.

“We’ve had nationwide coverage, and the interest is extremely high,” Freedman said.

The sesquicentennial celebration, planned by the museum staff for more than two years, included the issuance of a special medallion die sculpted by former U.S. Mint engraver Tom Rogers.

The Carson Mint originally operated between 1870 to 1893. It produced nearly $50 million in face value of gold and silver coins, including gold double eagles, or $20, and eagles, or $10, and half eagles, or $5, as well as silver dollars, half dollars, quarters, dimes and 20-cent pieces.

Freedman said even though the Carson City Mint closed in 1893 and ceased to be the Mint in 1899, its place in history was well-preserved.

“It seemed like it was the end of a story, but here we are 150 years after it first started minting,” he said. “It became a wonderful Nevada story. … And, of course, to top it off, Coin Press No. 1 is still here. You can’t find a situation like this anywhere else on Planet Earth.”

Jim Markle, a coin press operator playing an historical interpreter Tuesday, said Coin Press No. 1 made an arduous journey from Philadelphia to Carson City, routed through the East Coast and Panama by rail, wagon and ship, finally arriving in 1869. The Transcontinental Railroad wasn’t fully formed at that time. The machine, the only of its kind for the first five years, produced 100 coins per minutes.

“I think one of the real stories is the women who worked on the machine,” he said. “They were the ones who made sure that everything fit in the machine, no matter whether it was gold or silver.”

Also part of the Mint 150 celebration, Freedman said, are the Children’s Minting Days this Saturday and Sunday. Children 17 and younger and museum members will be admitted free both days when they visit and children will receive a coin blank to bring to Coin Press No. 1 and a sesquicentennial medallion struck with a limit of one per child. Activities include a scavenger hunt and crafts. The museum opens at 8:30 a.m. and minting demonstrations will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sesquicentennial minting also will continue through the week from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Friday. The medallion is 30 millimeters, .999 fine silver and costs $75. Silver medallions will not be minted Saturday and Sunday. Copper medallions will be minted for free for children.

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