The Carson City Mint

[photo: The Carson City Mint]

Precious silver ore from the Comstock Mines gave birth to the idea of Carson City as a site for a branch mint. In 1863, Congress passed a bill authorizing Nevada's Carson City branch mint and three years later, workers laid the building's cornerstone.

Various problems prevented the mint's readiness, but coinage operations finally began at the new mint in the spring of 1870 and continued until 1885 when work halted because the Comstock Lode started to give out. Production resumed in 1889; the mint finally stopped its coinage operations for good in 1893.

[photo: Side view of die with

Side view of die with "C"

“C” – Ship to Carson City

The side of this die is stamped with "C" for Carson City (the Charlotte, NC Mint had closed in 1861). Because the main mint at Philadelphia made all of the dies for branch mints, this letter made it easy to identify the particular die to ship to the respective mints.

Dies arrive in early 1870

Obverse and reverse dies intended for an 1869 mintage were shipped from Philadelphia to the Carson City Mint near the end of October 1869. Permission to use those 1869 dated dies in 1870 was denied, according to Bill Bugert in A Register of Liberty Seated Half Dollar Varieties, Volume II, Carson City Branch Mint.

According to Roger Burdette in From Mine to Mint, another shipment of dies of various denominations for 1870 coinage production was received February 10, 1870. While Bill Bugert says in his book, "Curry received an unknown number of 1870 dated gold and silver dies in mid-January." Based on documentation, it can be established that half dollar dies were certainly put into use sometime after March 25, 1870.