Dennis Cassinelli: Nevada State Museum offers look at Carson City coin collection | NevadaAppeal.com

Dennis Cassinelli: Nevada State Museum offers look at Carson City coin collection

Dennis Cassinelli

Much of the information in this article is from "The Mint on Carson Street," by Rusty Goe. Whenever I take people on tours through the Nevada State Museum, one of my favorite exhibits is the original coin press and the nearly complete collection of gold and silver Carson City coins minted there.

December 1999 was about the time my crew and I discovered the discarded coin dies at the mint. Also, about the same time, in a staged event, a Wells Fargo stagecoach pulled by four horses rumbled south down Carson Street with the agent cracking his whip yelling "Yaahh!" Suddenly, the driver pulled on the reins, bringing the cradle on wheels to a halt in front of the old mint building. A robust guard pulled a heavy strongbox off the coach as the driver opened the door, allowing the Governor of Nevada and a Wells Fargo Bank executive to step down. At that point, the bank executive handed the strongbox to Nevada's Governor, a symbolic gift.

This recreation of a scene from the classic days of the old west was part of a ceremony celebrating the donation of a nearly complete collection of Carson City coins by Wells Fargo Bank to the Nevada State Museum. Wells Fargo Bank and its predecessors had purchased the collection from the man who had assembled it, Norman H. Biltz. Nearing the end of his life, Norman Biltz had been offered $100,000 for it. Rather than accept that offer, he offered to sell it to First National Bank, later to become Wells Fargo Bank, for $50,000 with the following stipulations:

The bank would never sell the collection.

The collection would never leave Nevada.

The collection would be displayed on a regular basis.

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Being an avid coin collector and investor, Norman Biltz put together this amazing collection of gold and silver Carson City mint coins as an investment. He was a financier and real estate man who played an important role in the development of Nevada, particularly of Lake Tahoe and Reno. He served on the board of Trustees of the Nevada State Museum from May 1947 to May 1948. Norman Biltz died in 1973 at the age of 71.

As agreed, the nearly complete collection of Carson City mint coins is on display for all to see in one of the vaults at the mint building near the old Coin Press No. 1 that was used to mint many of these coins. In other displays in the same area, there are close-up views of the different types of coins made there, canceled coin dies and original equipment from the mint.

This article is by Dayton author and historian Dennis Cassinelli, who can be contacted on his blog at denniscassinelli.com. All Dennis' books sold through this publication will be at a 50 percent discount plus $3 for each shipment for postage and packaging.