Q. David Bowers: The following narrative, with minor editing, is from my "Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia" (Wolfeboro, NH: Bowers and Merena Galleries, Inc., 1993).
The Carson City Mint: This institution was established by the Act of March 3, 1863, which provided also for the appointment of a superintendent at $2,000 a year and an assayer, a melter-refiner, and a coiner for $1,800 each annually.
The Comstock Lode, which was discovered in June 1859, was located approximately 15 miles away and for a time was America's richest silver bonanza. In addition, large quantities of gold were extracted from the earth in the district. (While over the years the Comstock Lode has been considered primarily as a source of silver, during the existence of the Carson City Mint the total face value of gold coins struck there was approximately equal to that of silver issues.)
The Carson City Mint was ready to do business in December 1869. Dies dated 1869 sent by the Philadelphia Mint were received at Carson City by October 21, 1869. How many were sent is not known; no inventory listing of 1869 and 1870 dies has been found." The 1869-dated dies were not used; the reverses were probably held for 1870 and later use.
The first Carson City Mint coins were silver dollars minted from 1870-dated dies on February 10, 1870, a quantity of 3,747 pieces. All were struck using a press made in Philadelphia by Morgan & Orr (see below). Each 1870-CC dollar bore the distinctive CC mintmark on the reverse.
On February 11th, Andrew Wright received the first delivery of CC dollars, a quantity of 2,300 coins. Wright, a watch-man or guard at the Mint, was undoubtedly entrusted with their safekeeping and/or paying them out. An additional three coins were saved for the Assay Commission.
Others then and later were shipped by horse-drawn wagon 30 miles over very rough roads to the railhead in Reno. Stored in cloth bags, the coins were extensively marked by the time they arrived at Reno, more so at their final destinations.
Production of Liberty Seated dollars at Carson City continued through early 1873, after which the new Mint Act abolished the denomination, and this branch began making trade dollars. Production of standard dollars resumed in 1878 at the Carson City Mint, using the new Morgan design, continuing through 1885, when Mint Bureau orders suspended all Carson City coinage operations. From 1889 through 1893 additional dollars were made there. In later years the Carson City Mint served as an assay office. No coins were struck after 1893.
In addition to silver dollars, the Carson City Mint struck silver dimes, 20-cent pieces, quarters, half dollars, and trade dollars, as well as gold coins of the values of $5, $10, and $20. Each Carson City coin bore the distinctive CC mintmark on its reverse.
Circulated grades: The 1870-CC, the first Carson City dollar issue, was minted to the extent of just 11,758, the total of monthly production figures per Mint records (or, per long-standing tradition, 12,462). (12,462 is a figure calculated and published by the Mint in the mid-1880s and cannot be substantiated today; R.W. Julian and Randall Wiley both checked the original monthly figures and arrived at the number of 11,758.)
However, quite a few were saved, probably representing specimens that were plucked from circulation after the publication of Augustus G. Heaton's Mint Marks study in 1893.
Circulated 1870-CC dollars have been available, reasonably priced, and popular on the numismatic market over the years. Much has been written about varieties, availability, etc., of the 1870-CC in The Gobrecht Journal. John Kroon reported that he saw 17 specimens at a single coin show. (Letter to the author, February 25, 1992.) Dale Phelan wrote that in 1992 a hoard of 82 coins in lower grades was in a private collection. (Letter to the author, May 27, 1992.) Hundreds of specimens exist, many of which show extensive wear.
Availability of Mint State grades: Examples of Mint State 1870-CC dollars, while quite rare, are more available than any of their other Carson City brethren in the Liberty Seated series. Those seen by me have all had prooflike surfaces. Often this is reflected in catalogue listings, such as these: The Fairfield Collection Coin (Bowers and Ruddy, 1977, Lot 1130) was described as "with nearly full prooflike surfaces .... So beautiful are the .surfaces that there is a distinct possibility that this may have been a presentation piece." The Auction '84 coin (Stack's, Lot 1194) was described as with "prooflike surfaces and needle-sharp in strike .... More than likely struck for presentation as the first year of issue of the Carson City Mint." A specimen in the Weimar White Collection has prooflike characteristics; Chris Napolitano comments that it is possibly a branch mint Proof. (Letter to the author, June 26,1992")
Some of the 1870-CC dollars graded "Uncirculated" or "Mint State," certified as well as non-certified coins, have not been in this grade, in my opinion; they seem easy to overgrade because of the typical prooflike surface seen on coins at the AU level or better. For example, I examined a certified coin marked "MS-63" that was almost coal black, and, in my opinion, no better than MS-60.
Weimar W. White commentary: The following opinion was given in correspondence with the author: (Letters from Weimar W. White, February 14 and May 17, 1992.)
All Mint State Liberty Seated Carson City standard silver dollars are great rarities. At one time it was thought that the four Carson City dates in Uncirculated condition would total about 50 specimens extant. However, as the grading standards tightened up in the middle 1980s, a number of the MS-60 graded coins fell into the About Uncirculated classification. Today, specialists who study these four dates feel that only 20 to 35 Uncirculated specimens are extant. Among others who share my views is John Kroon, who, like me, has investigated the series extensively.
Collectors who are trying to build l0-piece Carson City type sets [containing various denominations] in Mint State face the ultimate stopper coin, which is one of these much celebrated Carson City dollars. As of this writing, not one 1873-CC Liberty Seated dollar has been certified by the two major grading services [PCGS and NGC]. And, only a few of the other CC dates are listed as existing in this lofty grade. It is easier to locate a Mint State 1893-S Morgan dollar or 1878-CC trade dollar than to find an" 1870-CC Liberty Seated dollar in the same grade.
Population estimates: Estimating the population of surviving 1870-CC dollars has attracted the interest of several students of the series. Writing in The Gobrecht Journal; March 1983, Weimar W. White stated that he believed one to two MS-65 coins were known, 10 to 30 MS-60 to 63 coins existed, and that the total population, including worn pieces, is in the range of 75 to 275. However, in later correspondence with the author, Weimar W. White tightened his estimate to 200 to 265 known in all grades.
John Kroon, in a letter to the author (April 30, 1992), suggested that 250 to 375 exist in all grades combined, a revision downward from his estimate of 500 to 750 expressed in a July 1984 article in The Gobrecht Journal: "Carson City Seated Dollars-How Many Survive?" Dale R. Phelan, who has studied coins since his interest began in 1953, wrote to suggest that at least 1,000 1870-CC dollars exist in all grades. (Letter to the author, April 28, 1992.) My own feeling is that somewhat over 500 exist. On no other variety of Liberty Seated dollar have I encountered such a diversity of opinions regarding population estimates covering all grades. On no other variety of Liberty Seated dollar have I encountered such a diversity of opinions regarding population estimates covering all grades.
Circulation strikes (commentary):
Eight varieties are known and are described in detail below; these consist of two obverse dies combined with five reverse dies. As a class, these are known as Breen-5485 (CC mintmark closely spaced) and Breen-5486 (CC mintmark widely spaced).
Several coins seen (die varieties not reported) have had the reverse misaligned 12 degrees (two coins) or 25 degrees left of the normal position. (Lawrence N. Rogak, "Rotated Reverses on Liberty Seated Dollars." Article in The Gobrecht Joumal, July 1990.)
General notes concerning reverses: 1870-CC exists with closely spaced mintmark, which is rare, and widely spaced mintmark, as usually seen. Four reverse dies were made with the widely spaced characteristic; one was also used to make 1871-CC dollars, another to strike 1872-CC, and another for 1873- CC. See below:
Circulation strikes (die variety analysis): (Die descriptions courtesy of John Kroon with additional comments by Walter H. Breen (from photographic enlargements furnished by Weimar W. White). I use the traditional form of assigning numbers to the obverses and letters to the reverses.)
Obverse 1: Date left. Heavy numerals. The left upright of the digit 1 lines up with the tip of the shield. The base of the 7 is positioned directly over a denticle.
Obverse 2: Date right. Lighter numerals. The left upright of the digit 1 lines up to the right of the tip of the shield. The base of the 7 is positioned over a space between two denticles. Head and drapery near pole are weak. Denticles below date smaller, farther apart than in other areas. On later impressions (with Reverse A), die was repolished; numerals thin, upper denticles (above head and 8th and 9th stars) smaller, narrower, spaced farther apart.
Reverse A: Closely spaced CC. The notch of the serif of the left C is directly in line with an imaginary line extending upward from the right top of the letter E in ONE. The serif of the left C is to the right of this imaginary line. This die is found only on 1870-CC dollars and not on dollars of any other years.
Reverse B: Widest spaced CC. The left C is totally to the left of an imaginary line extending upward from the right top of the letter E in ONE. The upright of the left C is not parallel to this imaginary line; rather, it tips away from it. This die is found on some 1870-CC dollars and all known 1871-CC dollars.
Reverse C: Widely spaced CC. The two C's are parallel to each other. The left C is totally to the left of an imaginary line extending upward from the right top of the letter E in ONE. Also, a die line is visible on the denticle that is located just left of the upright of the letter L. Scroll end below ST of TRUST is stronger than on other dies. This die is found on dollars of 1870-CC and on all known 1872-CC dollars.
Reverse D: Widely spaced CC, closer to feather tip and stem than on other dies. The serif of the left C is bisected by an imaginary line extending upward from the right top of the letter E in ONE. The upright of the right C tilts away from the left C. Serif of left C barely left of feather tip, right C to right of junction of feather and stem. This die is found on dollars of 1870-CC and all known 1873-CC dollars.
Reverse E: Widely spaced CC, almost parallel, both leaning slightly to right. The rightmost aspect of the left C is just barely tangent to an imaginary line extending upward from the right top of the letter E in ONE. Right C directly below junction of feather and stem, unlike Reverse D, which this die resembles. This die is found only on dollars of 1870-CC. Announcement of the discovery of this die was made by Joseph T. Jaffe in The Gobrecht Journal, November 1984.
1. 1-A. Date left. Closely spaced CC. Used only on 1870-CC dollars.
2. 1-C. Date left. Widely spaced CC. Used on some 1870-CC dollars and all 1872-CC dollars.
3. 1-D. Date left. Widely spaced CC. Used on some 1870-CC dollars and all 1873-CC dollars.
4. 2-A. Date right. Closely spaced CC. Used only on 1870-CC dollars.
5. 2-B. Date right. Widely spaced CC. Used on some 1870-CC dollars and all 1871-CC dollars.
6. 2-C. Date right. Widely spaced CC. Used on some 1870-CC dollars and all 1872-CC dollars.
7. 2-D. Date right. Widely spaced CC. Used on some 1870-CC dollars and all 1873-CC dollars.
8. 2-E. Date right. Widely spaced CC. Used only on 1870-CC dollars.
Although more research remains to be done concerning the rarity of various die combinations (and the time sequence of use), John Kroon estimates that as a class (without respect to obverse varieties) coins with Reverse A are the rarest and comprise about 5% of the population of extant 1870-CC dollars; Reverse B coins comprise about 20%; Reverse C 25%; Reverse D 35%; and Reverse E 15%.
Dies prepared: Obverse: 2; Reverse: 5
Circulation strike mintage: 11,758; Delivery figures by day. ("Die Shipments and Coinage Delivery Dates for the Carson City Branch Mint in the Year 1870." Article by Randall E. Wiley in The Gobrecht journal; July 1988. A Guide Book of United States Coins, 1992, edition, gives 12,462 as the mintage figure.)
February 10: 2,303; February 24: 1,444; March 5: 1,116; March 22: 1,175; March 24: 500; March 30: 1,300; April 7: 500; May 20: 600; June 11: 870;June 14: 550;June 30: 1,400.
Estimated quantity melted: Unknown
Characteristics of striking: Usually well struck, a general characteristic of most varieties of Carson City dollars over the years; this is especially true of the reverse. However, as is the case with other CC Mint Liberty Seated dollars, the word LIBERTY on the shield is not as prominent as on Philadelphia coins, and tended to wear away especially quickly once the coins saw circulation. Most if not all were struck with prooflike surfaces. The most spectacularly prooflike coins, including one astonishing DMPL in the Weimar W. White Collection, are from dies 1-D, thought to have been the first of eight varieties struck. Some 1870-CC dollars have weakness on Miss Liberty's head and chest.
Known hoards of Mint State coins: None
The 1870-CC is the first Carson City silver dollar issue. Many were saved as the first of their kind, largely retrieved from circulation. Close to 5% survive.
The City and the Mint
In the late 1850s the western section of Nevada had few inhabitants and consisted of little except sparsely vegetated high prairie and mountain landscapes. Abraham Curry, who came from New York State, went to Nevada and purchased a tract of land on which he established Carson City in 1858. In local parlance, and also in numerous entries in the Annual Report of the Director of the Mint, the town was known simply as Carson.
In 1859 a band of travelers located gold-and silver-bearing black sand about 15 miles away from Carson City. Henry Comstock aggressively sought and gained control of the beginning operation, and soon directed a very valuable property which eventually became known as the Comstock Lode. Although the district was primarily known for its silver, vast amounts of gold were also found there. Word of the bonanza spread westward to California, where many gold-seekers had found the yellow metal elusive and had been reduced to employment on farms, in stores, and other less adventurous pursuits. The Comstock Lode beckoned, and by 1860-1862 the district, centered in Virginia City, was teeming with miners, nearly all of whom worked as laborers in large mining operations. Unlike in the early days of the Gold Rush in California.
Estimates of the population of Carson City Liberty Seated dollars in grades AG-3 to F-15 are from John Kroon, letter to the author April 30, 1992. Estimates of other grades are the author's. in Nevada there was little opportunity for the one-man mine. Largest of all Virginia City operations was the sprawling Gould & Curry facility.
Prosperity was the theme of the day, and fortunes were made not only in mining but in railroading, gambling, and other related ventures. On March 2, 1861 Nevada was granted territorial status, and on October 31, 1864 it became a state.
From 1859 through the early 1860s, most gold and silver from Virginia City was shipped by rail to San Francisco, the leading financial center of the West Coast. The San Francisco Mint converted much of the metal to coins.
The bonanza of riches from the earth spawned a number of very powerful political figures in Nevada, and repeated calls were made to establish a mint in the state. This would give Nevada a status of its own and was envisioned as a giant step in the establishment of the state as an important financial center in its own right, as opposed to being a feeder to San Francisco. In Washington, Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase favored a mint in Nevada, while Mint Director James Pollock felt that with existing mints at Philadelphia, New Orleans (inactive since 1861, when Civil War exigencies forced its closing), and San Francisco, a new mint would be redundant. It would make much more sense, he felt, to enlarge the San Francisco facilities, which at the time were cramped and poorly ventilated.
A Nevada mint was to be, and the Act of March 3, 1863 set forth the necessary details for a beginning, including salaries for those employed there. One of the most powerful figures in Nevada was Abram (also spelled Abraham) Curry, an owner of the Gould & Curry mine and the man who founded Carson City. He sold the government a tract of land in Carson in 1865. Following an authorization on July 18, 1866, construction began of a sandstone building 60 by 90 feet in floor plan, two and one-half stories high, estimated to cost $150,000. When the project was finished in autumn 1868, costs had mounted to $426,000. By December 1869 nearly everything was ready, and it was anticipated that coins bearing a distinctive mintmark, CC, would be struck for the first time. The use of a single letter, C, was considered, but was abandoned as that letter had been the mark of the Charlotte Mint from 1838 until it closed in 1861.
Delays ensued, and dies did not arrive on time. Despite the fact that the mint was all ready to go but could do nothing, official opening ceremonies were held on January 6, 1870, by which time the facility had been in virtual readiness for a half year. Abram Curry was the first superintendent. At this point, bullion could be received for assaying and refining, but no coins could be struck. Finally, the dies arrived, and on February 10th the first silver dollars were struck. Later in February, $10 gold coins were made for the first time in Carson City, and in March a coinage of $5 and $20 coins took place.
From the outset the Carson City Mint was unpopular. Curry was a competitor to many other Virginia City mine owners, and the thought of having him benefit from their ore was not pleasing. Apparently, the railroads cooperated in this situation, for tariffs were set up which made it cheaper to haul bullion hundreds of miles to San Francisco than 15 miles to Cats on City! Actually, the equation is not as simple as that, for once minted, the coins would mostly have to be shipped to San Francisco or some other commercial center anyway, for the inhabitants of Nevada were not numerous enough to use much of the production in everyday commerce.
Throughout the history of the Carson City Mint, many efforts were directed toward closing it down. Many allegations were made concerning the inefficiency of operations there, the poor security, poor refining practices, etc., few of which had any foundation in fact.
As it turned out, Abram Curry was superintendent for only a brief time. He left in September 1870 in an unsuccessful bid for election as lieutenant governor on the Republican ticket. He was followed in the mint office by H.F. Rice, erstwhile Wells-Fargo express agent. Rice was intensely disliked. His term lasted until May 1873, when he resigned amidst a storm of controversy concerning charges that gold coins were underweight. The charges were enthusiastically supported by the numerous adversaries of the mint, but were never completely substantiated by evidence.
Next in line as superintendent was Frank D. Hetrich (May 1873 to August 1875), who came to the post with experience in the assaying, refining, and minting process, an unusual situation for a post that was then (as now in various mints) a political plum. Then followed James Crawford (September 1875-March 8, 1885; a native of Kentucky, he moved to Nevada in 1863 and to Carson City in 1874), whose tenure was especially long" after which Theodore R. Hofer served for a few days in an interim capacity, followed by Maj. William Garrard (March 18, 1885 to June 30,1889)" Samuel Coleman Wright (July 1, 1889-August 1, 1892), and Theodore R. Hofer again (August 6, 1892-May 20, 1894), by the end of whose term the Carson City Mint was no longer striking coins. Still other officials were in charge when the facility functioned as an assay office. The building was operated by the government until June 30, 1933. On May 22, 1939, legislation was passed approving of its sale. Since October 31, 1941 it has been the Nevada State Museum; see "The Story of a Coining Press" below.
A description of the Carson City Mint, from Thompson and West's History of Nevada, 1881, p. 557, follows:
"Granite from the prison stone quarry. Pict style of architecture. Portico, Ionic. Hall, 12 feet in width; main hall 12x40; on the right of the entrance. Paying teller's office, 13x16 feet. Coining room, 19x19. Spiral staircase conducts above. Whitening room 10x14.5, with a vault in solid masonry 5x6. Annealing furnace and rolling room, 17x24. Gold and silver melting room 10x24. Melters' and refiners' office, 12x19 feet. Deposit melting room 14.5x19. Deposit weighing room, 19x19, with a strong vault 6.5x 10.5 feet. Treasurer's office, 13x16, with a vault five feet square. Engine room, 16.5x53 feet. Beside which there is a cabinet, adjusting room, ladies' dressing room, humid assay room, assayer's office, assayer's room, watchman's room, two store-rooms, attic, basement. As a preventive against fire the floors are double, with an inch of mortar between. The foundations are seven feet below the basement floor and laid in concrete. Building two and a half stories high. The machinery for the mint arrived November 22, 1868. The mint has a front of 90 feet on Carson Street ...
"November 1, 1869. The machinery of the mint was put in motion in the afternoon .... September 19, 1872. Supt. H.F. Rice puts down before the mint building a granite sidewalk, 12 feet wide and 180 feet long .... July 1, 1873. F.D. Hetrich became superintendent of the mint vice H.F. Rice."
Beginning in the early 1890s, collectors became interested in the products of the Carson City Mint. In 1893, Augustus G. Heaton suggested that readers of his Mint Marks book could order CC coins directly from the source. In the intervening decades, Carson City silver and gold coins have become highly prized, with some of the rarest being issues bearing dates from 1870 to about 1873.
Report on the Carson City Mint, 1869
In the Annual Report of the Director of the Mint, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1869, James Pollock noted that the branch mint at Carson City, Nevada was approaching completion, the machinery was nearly all in place, and operations would soon begin. He stated that the peculiar characteristics of the bullion were such that the workers would have to be "practical, experienced, and scientific men" in order to refine it properly. Much of the bullion was expected to contain a mixture of silver and gold; "the bars of mixed bullion being officially stamped with both gold and silver proportions will be as salable in that form as if they were parted." Further:
"The operations of this mint will, in all probability, culminate in commercial bars, as coin already abounds in that region so extensively that their papers express alarm as to the prospects of redundancy. Practically it will be much more an assay office than a mint, and as such, fully meet the wants of the district. The power to make coin may be of occasional benefit; perhaps, in the future, at much advantage."
Report on the Carson City Mint, 1870
The Annual Report of the Director of the Mint, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1870 noted the following:
"Carson City: The branch mint at Carson City, Nevada, is now in operation. In May 1869 the fitting up of this branch for business as a mint was commenced, and completed in December of that year. On the 8th of January 1870, it was opened for the reception of bullion. The superintendent [Abram Curry 1 in his report, says, 'Since that time the business has been steadily increasing, and, with the facilities afforded other institutions of its kind, will do a large business in refining and coining.
" 'This branch mint, to make it efficient and successful, requires a bullion fund equal to the legitimate demands of business, and the just expectations of its depositors. No such fund has, as yet, been provided for the institution.'(Without such a fund, depositors of silver and gold had to come back to the Carson City Mint days later in order to obtain payment for their bullion or to receive it in coined metal. Had such a fund been implemented at the time, depositors could have received payment immediately upon assay. The bullion fund pertained only to silver dollars and gold coins.)
"The urgent request of the superintendent for such fund was approved by the director and forwarded to the proper authorities for their consideration and action. It is desirable that the subject should be favorably considered, and the fund provided. 'The delay,'says the superintendent in his report, 'in giving the branch a sufficient amount of gold and silver to cash deposits as soon as their value should be determined, has operated very injuriously, as well in regard to the amount of bullion received, as in the expense of working it. Large lots of bullion can be worked with far less percentage of wastage than small ones; and the labor of remelting and reassaying has been much greater than if larger quantities could have been worked at once.'
" 'In reference to the future of this branch and its influence in developing the mineral resources of the country, the report says: 'The mining interests of the country from whence the larger portion of bullion is received, are improving rapidly; new mines are being developed and larger quantities of bullion produced as the cost of working the ore is becoming reduced. With proper arrangement and facilities afforded this branch, (This is a rare laudatory remark for a superintendent of the Mint, whose office was in Philadelphia, to make about Carson City. Most later Annual Reports of the Director of the Mint were critical of the Nevada operation.) it will increase its business materially during the next fiscal year and give much aid in developing the mining interests of this and adjoining states.'
"The deposits at this branch during the year, were, gold, $124,154.44; gold coined, $110,576.05; silver deposits and purchases, $ 28,262 .16; silver coined, $19,793.00. Total deposits and purchases, $152,416.60; total coinage, $132,369.05; total number of pieces, 38,566. The report is very encouraging, and it is earnestly desired that the present anticipations of its officers may be fully realized in the future prosperity of this branch." I cannot forbear repeating the declaration made in my last annual report, that the policy of the government in relation to the development of the mineral wealth of our country should be liberal and generous."
The Local View
Following the release of the first 1870-CC dollars the Carson City Daily Appeal stated:
"Carson Mint dollars have made their appearance. They are notable coins for several reasons. In the first place, they are living refutation of the old, carping prediction that there would never be any money issued from the Carson Mint; and in the second place they are the only silver dollars that have been minted for several years. They are very handsomely coined; very good to jingle, and powerful good for sore eyes. The)' are worth just eight cents more than two silver half dollars."
The Story of a Coining Press
In 1869 a Morgan & Orr coining press made in Philadelphia arrived at the Carson City Mint. Weighing six tons and operated by steam, the press was intended for striking large diameter coins such as silver dollars. On February 10, 1870 it struck the first silver dollars to bear the distinctive CC mintmark. Later, as a result of continued stress to the frame, the press developed a crack in the arch above the die area. It was sent to the Virginia & Truckee Railroad shop for repairs, which were completed on September 21, 1878. A brass plate bearing the Virginia & Truckee name was mounted on the front of the arch. The press continued in use through 1893, the last year of coinage at Carson City, after which it fell into disuse. In 1899 it was shipped to Philadelphia for use in the new Mint building (opened in 1901), where it was driven by an electric motor and saw service for several decades. In 1930 it was rebuilt and modernized for further use. In 1945 it was shipped to the San Francisco Mint. When that facility was closed in 1955, with the intention of never again producing coins 'there, the Morgan & Orr press was sent to the former Carson City Mint building, which since October 31, 1941had been known as the Nevada State Museum.
At the museum the press was installed as an exhibit. In 1964 the public began hoarding coins, a great shortage occurred, and facilities of the mints were put into overtime service to fill the seemingly insatiable demand. (Eva Adams, director of the Mint, blamed this on coin collectors, a charge which was hotly denied by the American Numismatic Association and others. For some inexplicable reason(s), the Numismatic Literary Guild and the American Numismatic Association later gave Miss Adams high awards. Perplexed by the ANA award, a researcher endeavored to find out who had proposed it, only to learn that the proposal in the ANA files was unsigned! Similarly, the background of a high award given by the Numismatic Literary Guild to Miss Adams is a mystery today.) The old reliable Carson City press was removed from its exhibit and shipped away once again, after which it struck 118,000,000 cents, dimes, and quarters through 1967. It went back to the old Carson City Mint building, where it continues to live out its retirement today by striking souvenir medals for visitors.
Harry Salyards, M.D. Comments
In a letter to the author, November 23, 1992, Harry Salyards, M.D. wrote apropos of the 1870-CC:
Where mintage figures are widely known, there is a strong temptation to equate low mintages with scarcity, high ones with ease of acquisition. In the latter instance, this has led to paranoia on the part of uninformed collectors-when, for example, they are offered a high-mintage coin like the 1901 dollar for a stiff price, the cry is "ripoff" On the other hand, a coin with a mintage of only 12,462 has to be rare-doesn't it? Yes and no. In strict Mint State, the 1870-CC is no doubt a major rarity-but that statement is based on market observation. What does the market have to say about the 1870-CC across the grading spectrum? The answer: that specimens are plentiful.
This was first called to the attention of the collector community with John Kroon's article, "Availability of Liberty Seated Dollars by Grade," In the March 1984 Gobrecht Joumal. In this survey of advertised offerings over a year's period of time, the 1870-CC came in 36th-right after the 1849 and right before the 1846. And, not surprisingly, the market has taken this commonality into account. Consider this: If the mintage figure is accurate (more on this later), it is the same mintage recorded for the 1873-CC With Arrows quarter. Neither was saved by mintmark at the time of its issuance; there is no reason to believe that local circulation of the one denomination was any heavier than that of the other; there are almost certainly mote collectors of Seated dollars than of Seated quarters-so the dollar should be in greater demand, driving up the price. And yet, compare the recent Coin World "Trends" prices:
For the 1873-CC With Arrows quarter prices begin at $1,100 for Good condition, $1,450 in VG, $2,250 in Fine, $3,200 in VF, and $6,000 in EF. In contrast, the 1870-CC dollar is listed at $175 in Good, $310 in VG, $415 in Fine, $625 in VF, and only $1,050 in EF. The market values the quarter at five to six times the dollar at any circulated grade.
So, is the recorded mintage accurate? It seems like an amazing coincidence for two different denominations struck at the same mint three years apart to have the absolutely identical mintage of 12,462. It also seems incredible that two obverse and five reverse dies were used to strike eight varieties among such a minuscule mintage. And, for all the romantic attraction of the first "cartwheel" with the mintmark CC, the market doesn't value it like a coin with a mintage of only 12,462. So, could that reported mintage be in error?
Bowers & Ruddy 10/1977:1130 - Stack's “Auction ‘84 7/1984:1194 - L.R. French, Jr. Family Collection of United States Silver Dollars - Stack’s 1/1989:55 - unknown intermediaries - Dr. John C. Wong - Bowers & Merena 11/2001:4422 - Battle Born Collection - Stack’s/Bowers 8/2012:11077, $126,500
Donald E. Bently Collection - Heritage 3/2014:30109, $32,900
Goldbergs 5/2011:920, $48,300 - Goldbergs 1/2012:2578, $29,900
© 1999 - 2014 Collectors Universe NASDAQ: CLCT