Northern Nevada Coin owner Allen Rowe, long a collector of coins and bullion, is fascinated with each one in circulation. Not every coin is struck the same way, most change hands and travel throughout the world in different ways.
“That’s one of the most important parts of it,” Rowe said. “When you’re collecting coins — let’s take Morgan silver dollars, they are one of the most collected — every coin looks the same except for the date and the mint mark. But then you have a strike characteristic. Yet it’s an MS68 condition, so it’s perfect, never circulated. It looks like the day it was made. Coins like that are impressive.”
For Rowe, people browsing the store’s collection of rare finds has been the rewarding aspect of his business.
“One of the most interesting stories we had happen was a lady was walking her dog and found a $10 gold coin on the road,” he said. “The coin had been stepped on, run over the last 100 years, but it was an 1870 Carson City $10 coin. But it was still worth five figures and we purchased it from her.
“So there are things like that out here where people can find things in the hill or things buried or lost.”
One fascination visitors have with Northern Nevada Coin is its location and its connection to the former Carson City Mint building across the street, Rowe said. The building, now the Nevada State Museum, was created in 1863 to help with the incoming deliveries of gold and silver from the Comstock Lode, but it was not operational until 1870. Carson’s Mint ran until about 1885 as Democratic President Grover Cleveland was inaugurated, resumed operations in 1889 and enjoyed a productive period and ran until 1893 when its last coins were produced. The building became an assay office for more than 30 years when it closed during the Great Depression.
Rowe said the Carson City Mint made less than 900,000 coins in its existence while in 1870 alone the San Francisco Mint struck more than 900,000.
“We were basically a mint that didn’t need to survive, unfortunately,” he said. “But it also embodied the old West. It was when people were moving from east coming out west. The land was fresh and new, it was untamed. In short order, we had infrastructure here. It’s just that spirt of the Old West, the cowboys and the Indians, the rough saloons, the miners striking it rich. All that was embodied with the Carson City Mint. It was almost the end of an era there.”
Rowe, who was named Coin World Magazine’s “Most Influential People” in Numismatics for 2023, has grown his company to three locations in Reno, Carson City and Gardnerville. His interest in coins began when he was 8.
Keith Bartleson, precious metal expert who tests gold and silver items people bring into the store, has been with Northern Nevada Coin four months. He described his interests in international trade but had been unable to travel worldwide after the pandemic.
“I found this $1 bill with all these names on it, and I asked our coin specialist, ‘What’s this all about?’ And he said, ‘That’s a short snorter.’ I couldn’t figure that out,” Bartleson said. “It was really kind of heart-tugging because a lot of the military, when they were in certain parts of the world, would sign their names on the dollar bills, and there would be six or eight names, and that meant so much to me as far as archaeology was concerned, and I find that intriguing and that keeps me motivated.”
Northern Nevada Coin will hold a customer appreciation and anniversary party to celebrate 30 years in business from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 30.
The anniversary party is a collaborative effort with the Brewery Arts Center, Visit Carson City, Carson City, Northern Nevada Dream Center, the Nevada State Museum and the Nevada Department of Minerals. A raffle will be held with all proceeds benefiting Northern Nevada Dream Center and the Nevada State Museum. Several free prizes will be distributed throughout the day. One of the special prizes from the Nevada State Museum will be a coin struck from Press Number One. The grand prize is a Morgan silver dollar minted in Carson City.
An artist from the Brewery Arts Center also will create a mural on the north wall of Northern Nevada Coin's building as music plays, a corn hole tournament will be underway and attendees can try their hand at gold panning. Visitors can enjoy tacos and snow cones.
For information, visit https://northernnevadacoin.com.