Gold stacked in the hallway
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The US Mints and New York Assay Office were in almost constant need of expanded vault space. The initial concept of a national mint was to coin gold and silver for depositors and return coins immediately. If strictly followed this approach required  only temporary safe storage between deposit and pick-up by the customer. But that was soon found to be an overly generous plan - the country did not have banking and currency control systems capable of absorbing and smoothly distributing the mints' output. Thus, vaults at the mints were almost never spacious enough to avoid crowding.

The situation with Standard Silver Dollars (Morgan's design) piled in hallways is well known, but much the same applied to gold, particularly during World War 1 when vast quantities of yellow metal flowed into the New York Assay Office.

 

Gold in the hallways at New York Assay Office

…The work of the office is hampered for the sole reason that when large deposits are received it is impossible for use to open and weigh them in quantities larger than $5,000,000 a day, because we have no vault space in which to store the metal while it is being weighed. The result of this is that almost continuously for the last year we have had from $60,000,000 to $10,000,000 piled up in the corridors and hallways of the building, necessitating the hiring of armed guards to watch it at an additional expense to the Government while in the process of being weighed, and resulting in large interest losses to the depositors

It also requires us to move by small hand-trucks approximately $15,000,000 of gold in a week, down a long wooden runway, through the public street to the Sub-Treasury…

[RG104 E-235 Vol 421. Excerpt from Memorandum dated January 19, 1917 to Assistant Treasury Secretary Newton from Mint Dir. vonEngelken.]

Edited by RWB
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Interesting.....makes you understand how they could lose 250 1928 DE's and also claim  that a few 1933 DEs were "stolen" by Switt and Silver doing an early incarnation of Tom Cruise breaking into CIA headquarters in "Mission: Impossible."  xD

While you mentioned it.....what is a sub-Treasury ?  I see that phrase coming up alot in your book especially as I skimmed the 1920's and 1930's coins.

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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Sub-Treasury.

After President Jackson killed the 2nd Bank of the United States (September 10, 1833) and removed Federal funds to favored state banks, and the Bank charter expired in 1836, there was a deep financial panic, specie suspension and other problems related to the economy and distribution of funds. After much fussing about the so-called Independent Treasury system evolved. This consisted of multiple Federal locations known as Sub-Treasuries from which funds could be distributed, payments received and specie in circulation managed. Each was under the charge of an Assistant Treasurer of the United States and each acted as a representative of the main Treasury in Washington City. They were also supposed to be de facto clearing houses but private banks set up their own systems to do this more efficiently using corespondent banks.

By the 1880s Sub-Treasuries began to act more like regional Federal banks and provided a greater range of financial services, especially currency, to National Banks. Sub-Treasuries were technically replaced by twelve Federal Reserve Banks in the Federal reserve Act of 1913 and fully absorbed by 1921. Consolidation was promoted in part by broad expansion of the national economy, realization that political interference was contrary to fiscal management responsibility, and normalization of the commercial value of a "dollar."

In the Double Eagle book you will see both Sub-Treasury and Federal Reserve Bank terms used.

Edited by RWB
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Hi Roger, I am looking at my notes. In 1933 or 1934 there was an enormous shipment of gold in the form of large ingots and double eagles. I think it originated in Japan and China and it was literally coming out of the windows at the SF Mint. It was loaded onto a train and shipped to the Denver Mint. The coin crates or wooden boxes each contained 10  $5,000 bags of DE’s

Years earlier in 1908-1909 millions of dollars in gold half eagles, eagles and double eagles were shipped from the SF Mint to the Denver Mint. 

Do you have any information on these shipments? Thanks. 
 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

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Nouzillet - I'll check my files. Large shipments were not especially unusual and the Denver Mint was built with excess storage capacity so it could relieve San Francisco of overflow.

The movement from SF to D would have been called a transfer order, and I don't have much data - they were numerous over decades.

In CY 1934 the only large deposits from Asia were $16,280,987 from Hong Kong and $75,589,337 from India. In 1935 imports were $9,414,534 and $71,407,974 respectively. All of this was in refined bullion, likely from the British Mints in those colonies.

MarkFeld - Sorry to disappoint. The only thing lining the hallways are dust bunnies awaiting easter dinner.

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PS: Standard US Mint shipping boxes for double eagles contained $40,000 in 8 bags, packed in two layers. Sawdust was used between bags and a single board between the layers. Boxes had two steel straps on length and width, and one on circumference. Strap ends were commonly embossed with lead seals, which sometimes fell off during handling. International shipment of standard fine bars from the NYAO and NY banks was commonly in small kegs holding 7 bars (2,800 T oz.) packed in pressed wet sawdust arranged with six standing vertically and the seventh in the center - but this varied with the consignee's requirements.

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Roger, if you have all this knowledge from PAPERS from 85-120 years ago.....it's mind-boggling that the Mint can't reconstruct who swiped that bag of 1928's DEs.  

It's not like it was the coffee room, it was the gold vault -- how many people had access, huh ?

Anyway, great job.  I enjoy reading these tidbits.  Helps shed light on bigger things like that theft.

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Operations and detailed tracking/accounting were never the strong point of US Mints. The USSS identified multiple failure points during their investigation of the missing bag of 1928s. These defects were corrected beginning with Drissel's term as Superintendent, but by then gold was long-gone from mint production.

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1 hour ago, RWB said:

Operations and detailed tracking/accounting were never the strong point of US Mints. The USSS identified multiple failure points during their investigation of the missing bag of 1928s. These defects were corrected beginning with Drissel's term as Superintendent, but by then gold was long-gone from mint production.

Dressel....xD

I may be way off, but I honestly think the USSS and Mint officials losing $5,000 in 1928 DE's is why they got such a fixation on the 1933 DE's.  If it's true that the dust on the missing bag space matched the 1933 DE's (from your HA write-up), it just adds more intrigue.

If I only had a DeLorean that could get up to 88 MPH.....xD

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On 4/10/2020 at 5:50 PM, RWB said:

PS: Standard US Mint shipping boxes for double eagles contained $40,000 in 8 bags, packed in two layers. Sawdust was used between bags and a single board between the layers. Boxes had two steel straps on length and width, and one on circumference. Strap ends were commonly embossed with lead seals, which sometimes fell off during handling. International shipment of standard fine bars from the NYAO and NY banks was commonly in small kegs holding 7 bars (2,800 T oz.) packed in pressed wet sawdust arranged with six standing vertically and the seventh in the center - but this varied with the consignee's requirements.

"Wet sawdust?" So that's where toning comes from!!!!!!

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On 4/10/2020 at 3:12 PM, Nouzillet said:

Hi Roger, I am looking at my notes. In 1933 or 1934 there was an enormous shipment of gold in the form of large ingots and double eagles. I think it originated in Japan and China and it was literally coming out of the windows at the SF Mint. It was loaded onto a train and shipped to the Denver Mint. The coin crates or wooden boxes each contained 10  $5,000 bags of DE’s

Years earlier in 1908-1909 millions of dollars in gold half eagles, eagles and double eagles were shipped from the SF Mint to the Denver Mint. 

Do you have any information on these shipments? Thanks. 
 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

When I was working at ANACS in the late 70's and early 80's and taking Summer Seminar students up to the Denver Mint for a VIP tour, we started at the Superintendent's office and then walked past an open (but barred) vault with a large quantity of gold bars in it. No free samples. We then went down to the coining floor and, in some years, got to walk past running coin presses, blanking presses and upsetting mills, etc. No eye or ear protection, just a general warning "Keep your hands out of running machinery!"

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Nouzillet &  CaptHenway

The Roosevelt Administration began transferring gold from San Francisco to Denver in late 1933. Eventually gold was concentrated at Ft. Knox and silver at West Point. Purpose of the gold transfer was to relieve overcrowding at San Francisco and to move gold away from the west coast - an area FDR considered vulnerable to Japanese attack.

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  • Member: Seasoned Veteran

Here's a photo dated August 30, 1934 that shows gold being loaded onto trucks at the San Francisco Mint. The destination isn't specified, but it was almost certainly Denver.

Loading Gold On To Vehicles Outside Old Mint Building_083034.jpg

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The bullion and coins were taken by truck to a nearby railway yard (not a station) and gently loaded into box cars for the trip to Denver. I do not know the exact number of Post Office guards on each car.

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On 6/2/2022 at 3:52 PM, DWLange said:

Here's a photo dated August 30, 1934 that shows gold being loaded onto trucks at the San Francisco Mint. The destination isn't specified, but it was almost certainly Denver.

Loading Gold On To Vehicles Outside Old Mint Building_083034.jpg

Mr. Lange: Where did you find this photo?

Thanks!

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On 6/3/2022 at 5:12 PM, Alex in PA. said:

After seeing those pictures one has to wonder what type of person it takes to work around all that gold, especially the bars, and still be honest?

It quickly becomes "just junk."

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A little side note
The San Francisco Federal Archives in San Bruno CA

have copies of letters that show millions of dollars in gold coins (Half Eagles, Eagles, and Double Eagles) being shipped once or twice a week from the SF Mint to the Denver Mint in 1908-1909

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On 6/3/2022 at 3:12 PM, Alex in PA. said:

After seeing those pictures one has to wonder what type of person it takes to work around all that gold, especially the bars, and still be honest?

I remember somebody once describing an old picture they (allegedly) saw of three Fort Knox workers on their lunch break sitting on stacks of gold bars playing poker for matchsticks!

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On 6/2/2022 at 3:52 PM, DWLange said:

Here's a photo dated August 30, 1934 that shows gold being loaded onto trucks at the San Francisco Mint. The destination isn't specified, but it was almost certainly Denver.

Loading Gold On To Vehicles Outside Old Mint Building_083034.jpg

Unless I am missing something here, these trucks, stenciled U.S. MAIL, look to be little more than open-air, wooden carriages whose flimsy design in the absence of interstate highway systems would make them vulnerable to breakdowns, and worse. The truck that was the target of robbers in 1922 outside the U.S. Mint in Denver looked beefier. 

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Posted (edited)
On 6/15/2022 at 12:52 AM, Quintus Arrius said:

Unless I am missing something here, these trucks, stenciled U.S. MAIL, look to be little more than open-air, wooden carriages whose flimsy design in the absence of interstate highway systems would make them vulnerable to breakdowns, and worse.

That's largely what they were. This was only for short range carriage to the railroad depot. The gold was sent parcel post under a Post Office Dept. contract. Common practice.

Edited by RWB
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On 6/2/2022 at 10:55 AM, RWB said:

Nouzillet &  CaptHenway

The Roosevelt Administration began transferring gold from San Francisco to Denver in late 1933. Eventually gold was concentrated at Ft. Knox and silver at West Point. Purpose of the gold transfer was to relieve overcrowding at San Francisco and to move gold away from the west coast - an area FDR considered vulnerable to Japanese attack.

FDR was worried about Japan in 1933 ?  Wow.....(thumbsu

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On 6/3/2022 at 5:12 PM, Alex in PA. said:

After seeing those pictures one has to wonder what type of person it takes to work around all that gold, especially the bars, and still be honest?

Roger or Dave probably know, but I am sure there were probably strip-searches or the like each day for anybody working with or near the gold.  They didn't even want anybody going home with gold shavings.

Today it's probably electronic scanning.

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On 6/3/2022 at 5:12 PM, Alex in PA. said:

After seeing those pictures one has to wonder what type of person it takes to work around all that gold, especially the bars, and still be honest?

No more honest than Jonathan Winters…

Interesting thread!

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On 6/15/2022 at 11:52 AM, GoldFinger1969 said:

Roger or Dave probably know, but I am sure there were probably strip-searches or the like each day for anybody working with or near the gold.  They didn't even want anybody going home with gold shavings.

Today it's probably electronic scanning.

Early mint employees wore leather aprons and were not permitted to leave during the work day. Sometime in the 20th century -- possibly when the new Philadelphia building was opened -- employees involved in coinage or metals in any way had dual lockers. One was for clothes they wore to work, and the other the government issued duds worn during the work day. After work, they showered and put on their "go-to-the Mint" clothes to head home.

As to FDR being concerned about Japan in 1933. That is correct. He had been concerned about them since his earlier days. ( See this short article: https://www.nps.gov/articles/franklin-delano-roosevelt-assistant-secretary-of-the-navy.htm ) As President FDR pushed aircraft carriers and fleet enlargement - both of which made victory in the Pacific possible. The US remains the only country with a substantial carrier inventory - 10 carriers in the Nimitz class and 10 more in other classes. China has 2 "little" jump carriers and 2 medium carriers; Russia has one (I think).

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