Museum extends coin press demonstration through Labor Day | NevadaAppeal.com

Museum extends coin press demonstration through Labor Day

Guy Clifton
Travel Nevada

Nevada State Museum volunteer Cliff Dunseth talks about the history of Coin Press No. 1 to museum visitors. The museum will be running demonstrations of the press each Friday through Labor Day.

Friday demonstrations of the Nevada State Museum's historic Coin Press No. 1 have proven so popular this summer that museum officials are extending the program through Labor Day weekend in September.

In previous months, the 148-year-old coin press — the first press used by the U.S. Branch Mint in Carson City when it opened in 1870 — was operated only the last Friday of the month. The frequency increased to every Friday in June and the response from museum visitors has been tremendous.

"The coin press is one of the museum's most beloved artifacts and the staff and volunteers love sharing its history," Myron Freedman, director of the Nevada State Museum, said. "The fact that it is operating in the same Mint building where it first began service makes it one of the most unique coin presses in the world."

Manufactured by Morgan & Orr in Philadelphia, the six-ton press arrived in Carson City in 1869 and pressed its first coin — a seated Liberty dollar — on Feb. 11, 1870.

In 1878, it suffered a catastrophic failure, a cracked arch, which put it out of commission for a time. Machinists at the local shop of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad repaired it, and proud of their handiwork, replaced the original brass plate bearing the name Morgan & Orr with their own.

Between 1870 and 1893, the Carson City Mint produced nearly $50 million (face value) of gold and silver coins, including gold double eagles ($20) and eagles ($10), half eagles ($5), silver dollars, half dollars, quarters, dimes and 20-cent pieces.

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Today, coins with the CC Mint mark are highly prized by collectors and among the most valuable in the collecting world.

The coin press demonstrations are free to observe with paid museum admission. Patrons can also purchase a blank .999 silver medallion at the museum store for $60 and see it pressed with one of the museum's special designs.

For information, contact Bob Nylen, curator of history, at rnylen@nevadaculture.org or 775-687-4810, ext. 245.