Wells Fargo coach brings coins to museum
A Wells Fargo and Co. stagecoach pulled by four horses delivered Gov. Kenny Guinn and a bank executive to the Nevada State Museum on Wednesday to give an Old West flavor to the donation of a $400,000 coin collection.
Wells Fargo, celebrating its merger with Norwest, turned over ownership of the coins to the museum, located in a historic building in downtown Carson City that once housed a U.S. mint.
The coin collection – including all but two of the different coins minted there – has been on display at the museum for 10 years. It had been on loan from First Interstate Bank, a predecessor of Wells Fargo.
“Someday, you know, we may get the other two coins,” quipped Guinn, who rode to the ceremony in the stagecoach with Kirk Clausen, executive vice president of the bank.
The collection was assembled by the late Norman H. Biltz of Reno. Of the variety of dimes, quarters, silver dollars and other pieces, the collection lacks only an 1873 dime without arrows and an 1873 quarter, also without arrows.
One of the dimes, valued at $550,000, is known to exist. There are four known quarters, each worth $150,000.
The rarest coin in the collection is an 1876 20-cent piece. Of 10,000 minted, only 10 to 12 are known to exist. Each is worth about $60,000.
Bob Nylen, curator at the museum, said many 20-cent pieces were melted down before they went into circulation. “There was too much confusion with quarters,” he said.
But Nylen can’t account for why so few dimes and quarters from 1873 remain. According to mint records, 12,400 dimes were produced that year in Carson City.
“It is surprising there is just one in circulation,” he said. “You would think others would turn up.”
Laura Schultze, president of Wells Fargo of Nevada, said the coin donation was an appropriate way to commemorate the bank merger.
“Much of the history of both Nevada and the United States is reflected in this unique coin collection,” she said.