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Shut down Carson Mint

6 posts in this topic

The Carson Mint has long fascinated collectors. Here's a letter (one of several on the subject) noting why the Director wants it closed.

November 5, 1885

 Hon. Daniel Manning,

Secretary of the Treasury


            I have the honor to state that since the issue of your orders of May 30 and June 11, 1885, the business of the United States Mint at Carson City, Nevada, has been practically insignificant; the total amount of deposits from July 1 to September 30, 1885, was gold 518 standard ounces, silver 151 [ounces].

            There seem no immediate prospect of such as an increase in the deposits at this Mint as to warrant its continuance as at present as an assay office. As it is not needed for coinage purposes, the suspension of the Assayer and the Melter & Refiner is respectfully suggested for the consideration of the President.

            It is also recommended that authority be given me to close the Mint at Carson to the receipt of deposits, and to discharge the clerks, assistants and workmen there employed.

            In view of the fact that the Mint at Carson contained a large amount of valuable machinery and apparatus, for the preservation of which care is required, it is proposed that the Superintendent be continued, at least until Congress make some further provision in the premises.

            Very respectfully,

James P. Kimball,


Edited by RWB
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Lobbying for a mint, or military base, Naval shipyard or other Federal facility was a traditional pastime of city and state officials. Such a facility was "free money & free jobs" with guaranteed stability and fair wages for local workers. members of Congress and state "business development authorities" do the same now -- how about a NASA facility in the middle of Alabama or Mississippi; move a statistical management office from Washington (where they can work easily with others) to the middle of a soy bean patch.

Looking at the long progression of US Mint letters, at times it seems that every city with more than 10 people and maybe a train station wanted a mInt. How about Nome, Alaska, Chicago, St. Louis, Cleveland, Salt Lake City, New York City, on and on.... :)

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It's no coincidence that the Carson Mint was shut down twice. It was considered by some to be a political plum, and when Grover Cleveland, (the lone Democratic president during the second half of the 19th Century) came to power in 1885, operations were suspended. When he lost to Benjamin Harrison, the mint resumed coining in 1889. Cleveland served a second, non-consecutive term starting 1893, and coining was again suspended for good.

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Economically, Carson Mint was a waste of money for everyone. Denver's lack of railway connections took it out of the running for a 2nd western mint, and Carson "seemed logical" because of its proximity to silver discoveries. But economically, silver was insufficient in value on which to build a public mint; and there was no local market for the metal. Additionally, most Carson exchange was paid on eastern Sub-treasuries, and miners wanted San Francisco exchange so they could get gold right away, or make transfers to New York or London.

In 1885 Carson closed with the death of the Superintendent March 8 pending appointment/qualification of a successor; and on orders of Dir. Burchard (per Sec Treasury) coinage was suspended May 8. For a while it could not even accept bullion.

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