Financial History Issue 121 (Spring 2017) | Page 32

Photos : Library of Congress
Top to bottom : US Mint in New Orleans , 1880 – 1901 ; US Mint in Philadelphia , 1905 ; US Mint in San Francisco following the earthquake , 1906 .
The sturdiness of this facility , later called the “ Old Mint ,” became evident during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire ; it was one of few buildings in the city that survived . Diligent mint workers and a shift in wind direction helped saved the building and its underground vaults , which at the time housed $ 300 million in bullion . By 1936 , even this venerable building became too small to handle the demand for coins throughout the western United States . The government began operating a new San Francisco facility the following year . The “ New Mint ” produced circulating coinage until 1955 . In 1968 , it began producing proof coinage sets ; it continues to serve this function today .
Meanwhile , in 1961 , the still-standing “ Old Mint ” was designated a National Historic Landmark and has been periodically open to visitors . Recently , the California Historical Society began to restore the building and preserve it for use as a public space .
Even while the San Francisco Mint was going strong , a silver strike in Carson City , Nevada prompted the government to begin operating another branch mint in 1870 . The Carson City facility produced gold and silver coins until 1893 . The building closed that year , but it re-opened two years later and served as an assay office until 1933 . The State of Nevada acquired the building in 1939 , and it now houses the Nevada State Museum .
A gold strike in Colorado in 1858 prompted the government to open another mint assay office within a few years . In 1860 , three entrepreneurs opened a private mint inside their bank . They produced coins and shipped gold dust to the Philadelphia Mint . In 1872 , another group of men opened a smelting and refining company , which processed ore ingots for assaying by the Denver Mint . In 1896 , the government purchased the land on which it would build a permanent branch mint there . The new facility began operating in 1906 — two years after its new stamping machinery was exhibited at the 1904 St . Louis World ’ s Fair . It remains in operation today .
In 1862 , gold was discovered in eastern Oregon . Dalles City , located on the Columbia River , became the nerve center of the gold rush . Riverboats carried the gold ore westward to Portland for the long ocean voyage to the San Francisco
30 FINANCIAL HISTORY | Spring 2017 | www . MoAF . org