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Change is here

Dave Frank
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Joel Mitchell, owner of Old Mint Coin & Bullion, holds a 1884 Carson City Morgan Dollar.
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The silhouette of a cowboy riding a bucking horse that’s printed on the back of the Wyoming state quarter shows how bad coin artwork has gotten, Joel Mitchell said.

The quarter is not anything like the coins Carson City used to make in the late 19th century, according to Mitchell, the owner of the Old Mint Coin & Bullion.

“No offense to Wyoming,” he said.

Some of the 111 kinds of Carson City coins are decorated with eagles, stars, a woman in a thin dress and, most importantly for collectors, the “CC” mark showing it was minted in the Carson City Mint.

Mitchell called the artwork on these coins “magnificent.”

According to a cover story in the April issue of “Coins” magazine, a rising interest in the coins in the last few years has made them especially popular now.

The “mystique” of the coins is wrapped in their association with the Old West and Comstock Lode, said Editor Bob Van Ryzin, as well as the rarity of some of the coins, printed from 1870-93.

Rusty Goe, author of “The Mint on Carson Street: An Enthusiast’s Guide to the Carson City Mint” agreed that the coins have had a resurgence.

“Carson City coins’ time has come,” he said.

Coin collectors began to pay more attention to the coins in the early 1970s, said Goe, owner of Southgate Coins and Collectibles in Reno, when the federal government found millions of silver dollars that had been minted in Carson City and sold them to the public.

Goe said the recent popularity, besides their now better-known history, was also helped by the quarterly magazine on Carson City coins, “Curry’s Chronicle,” and the Carson City Coin Collectors of the America, both of which he founded.

“It’s our own little piece in time,” he said of the coins.

The high price of gold is also driving an interest in rare coins, said Allen Rowe, owner of Northern Nevada Coin in Carson City.

More Carson City coins have been selling recently, he said, but demand doesn’t ever fall to much because interest in the coins from the shortest-lived mint in the country is always strong.

Prices for good condition versions of these coins can range from a few hundred dollars to $1 million, the price Roe sold a dime for in 2004.

Mitchell said part of the reason for the price is the enthusiasm of collectors from all over the world.

“I get asked three times a day,” he said, “‘is there a cheap Carson City coin?'”

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.