A spectacular '85-CC, this coin features 100% obverse rainbow bag toning with prominent textile dots echoing the weave pattern of the burlap Mint bag in which it was stored for decades undisturbed. The combination of high grade, 100% toning coverage, emerald green, and textile dots makes this the most desirable '85-CC we have ever seen. Ex Heritage, FUN Signature Sale (1/15/05:11566), as ICG MS67; previously in the superb personal collection of toned Morgan dealer Jim Curtis of Estate Coin Company.
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), 2388-2395.
Mint closed: The Carson City Mint was closed to coinage in November 1885, by which time 228,000 1885-CC dollars had been struck. 200,000 of these were made in January and February and were thus listed as having been produced in fiscal year 1885 July 1, 1884 to June 30, 1885). Additional coins to the amount of 28,000 pieces were struck in August 1885 (which was in fiscal year 1886), giving rise to the old-time theory that there were "1886-CC" dollars, which was not the case. See Additional Information below for further details of the Carson City Mint's operations during this time period.
Distribution: Although 228,000 1885-CC dollars were minted in the year indicated, it is apparent that very few were actually placed into circulation at the time. To suggest that as many as 28,000 were used in the channels of commerce might be an exaggeration, for today worn coins are few and far between and, in fact, are the rarest of all Morgan dollars in circulated grades (not including the Proof-only 1895, of which worn pieces are occasionally seen).
A rarity: In 1925, numismatist E.S. Thresher reported that despite searching since 1919, he had not been able to find an example in circulation; one of just eight coins absent from his Morgan dollar collection (the others were 1884-CC, 1889-S, 1892, 1893-S, 1894, 1897, and 1899; he had found 1895 and 1903-O).
The desirability of the 1885-CC in the early days is illustrated by these selected market prices from auction sales and dealer listings. As always with branch mint Morgan dollars, the figures were erratic. However, the 1885-CC stands out as one of the most expensive coins in the series: 1890: Unc. $3.40; 1898: Fine $1.60; 1912: VG $11.75; 1914: Unc. $21.00; 1915: "Proof' $10.00 and VG $8.25; 1916:Unc. $25.50 (a Proof 1895 in the same auction brought all of $1.60!); 1919: Unc. $11.00; 1925: VG $2.35; 1939: Unc. $12.50; and 1941: $5.60.
Hoard coins: Uncirculated 1885-CC dollars were considered to be very rare, the creme de la creme of the series, until the 1930s, when John Zug and a few others obtained small quantities from the Cash Room at the Treasury Building in Washington. In 1941-1942, several bags were released, after which the supply seemed to dry up. In 1955, multiple bags came out of hiding in the Treasury Building, and 1885-CC dollars became common on the market, a situation that remained until 1957-1958. During the mid to late 1950s, bags wholesaled for about $1,200 each and retailed for about $1,600.
At the time Harry J. Forman, C.J. Dochkus, J. Grove Loser, John Skubis, Arnold Rosing, and perhaps others as well, actively bought and sold Uncirculated 1885-CC dollars in quantity. In 1958, multiple bags were released in Montana; these were probably from storage at the San Francisco Mint or one of the Federal Reserve facilities.
Additional quantities, probably modest in total, of Uncirculated 1885-CC were turned loose during the Treasury dispersals of 1962-1964, at the end of which 148,285 were held back for later sale by the General Services Administration. These were offered in the 1972-1974 mail bid sales (minimum bid $60). All but 31,569 sold, and those went in the final 1980 sale. The Redfield hoard may have contained as many as 1,000 coins.
It is my guess that perhaps 175,000 Mint State coins are known in the hands of the public and collectors, and that of the other 52,000 coins originally struck, perhaps 28,000 Gust a guess) were released in the nineteenth century and subsequently became largely lost, strayed, or melted, and that perhaps 25,000 were melted under the Pittman Act of 1918.
Of course, all of this is conjecture, but the fact remains that the vast majority of the original mintage still exists in Mint State. The low mintage of this issue has made it very attractive to collectors, and there has always been a strong demand for them.
Circulated grades: In terms of circulation strikes in worn grades, the 1885-CC is the king of Morgan dollars, outranking even the 1893-S. I estimate that only about 2,000 to 4,000 survive, mostly in lower grades from Good to Fine. Apparently, very few were placed into circulation during the nineteenth century. After the 1885-CC, the rarest Morgan dollar in circulated grades is probably the 1903-O.
Mint State grades: An estimated 175,000 or so remain, but these are so widely dispersed today that significant groups rarely come on the market. Rather, they are usually seen in groups of a few dozen or so at most. The majority of 1885-CC dollars are in grades MS-60 through 64, but MS-65 and finer coins are not rare.
Lower grade Mint State coins are apt to have many bagmarks (indeed, this is what usually makes them merit the lower grade designation). As a rule of thumb, 1885-CC dollars are usually more bagmarked than are typical dollars of 1882-CC through 1884-CC.
The typical 1885-CC is very well struck and possesses excellent mint lustre.
Prooflike coins: Many prooflike coins exist. Most have deep mirror surfaces and excellent contrast. However, the majority are in lower grade levels and are heavily bagmarked. Probably, over 10,000 PL and a like number of DMPL 1885-CC dollars survive. About 10% to 15% of these are MS-65 or finer. This date is slightly more plentiful than 1881-CC. The "Proof' in USCC's "Collection of a Prominent American" sale (May 19-21, 1915) at $10 was probably a DMPL.
1. Perfect date: Breen-5585. VAM-1 to 4. Probably not all 10 pairs of dies were used; the three obverses and two reverses described by Van Allen and Mallis would have sufficed.
Dies prepared: Obverse: 10; Reverse: 10
Circulation strike mintage: 228,000; Delivery figures by month: January: 100,000; February: 100,000; March: July: none; August: 28,000; September-December: none.
Specimens sent to the Assay Commission: 114
Estimated quantity melted: Very few, perhaps 25,000 under the Pittman Act.
Availability of prooflike coins: Common. Many DMPLs have cameo contrast.
Characteristics of striking: Usually very sharply struck.
Known hoards of Mint State coins: Bags were released in the 1950s; 148,285 coins were held back from the 1962-1964 Treasury release and subsequently sold by the General Services Administration.
This low-mintage Carson City issue is the last dollar from the early era. The vast majority still exist, and in Uncirculated grade. The mint closed on November 10, 1885, not to reopen for coinage until July 1, 1889.
1885 Coins in the 1886 Report
The Annual Report of the Director of the Mint, for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1886 commented on what would have been an otherwise misleading figure for Morgan dollars credited to the year 1886:
"The Mint at Carson City was closed during the entire year, all of the coinage of 28,000 silver dollars was credited to that institution. The coinage was really executed prior to June 30, 1885, but not delivered by the coiner to the Superintendent until after July 1, 1885, which brought it into this year's statement of coinage."
The record shows that on hand on June 30, 1885 at the Carson City Mint were 3,170,308 Carson City silver dollars. 28,000 were charged to the coinage of fiscal year of 1886 (but were dated 1885, as noted above), making a total of 3,198,308 pieces. Of this number 3.1 million were transferred to storage by the United States Treasury [in the Treasury Building in Washington, D.C., it turned out], leaving 98,308 on hand. Of this number, 18,072 were transferred to the United States Mint at San Francisco and 80,236 were distributed. Thus ends the story of the early Carson City coinage.
The 3.1 million pieces transferred to the Treasury for storage would play an important role in numismatic history many decades later, in the 1960s, when the majority of these coins were "discovered."
Carson City Mint Summary
The Annual Report of the Director of the Mint, 1886, contained a wrap-up report of activities at the Carson City Mint for the fiscal year which began on July 1, 1885 and ended on June 30, 1886:
"The value of the deposits [of bullion] at the Mint at Carson during the year amount to only $13,930.78.
"From the table of coinage it appears that the Mint at Carson coined 28,000 silver dollars. This coinage [as noted earlier] was really executed in the previous fiscal year, but not having been delivered by the coiner to the superintendent before the close of that year, was necessarily included in the coinage of the fiscal year 1885-1886.
"When operations were suspended at the Mint at Carson there were on hand in gold bullion 50,332,859 standard ounces, of the value of $936,425. 17, and 666,832.99 standard ounces of silver bullion, costing $647,968.22. The amount of gold coin on hand was $20,120, and of silver coin $20,076.42. ... [No explanation for the odd 2¢; the Carson City Mint made nothing smaller than dimes; perhaps some trade dollars on hand were computed at bullion value.]
"The gold and silver coins reserved from the coinage of the Mint at Carson for the calendar year 1885, forwarded to the Mint at Philadelphia for trial at the annual assay, amounted to $220 in gold and $114 in silver coin.(This would have been 114 1885-CC silver dollars. Note that the calendar year, not the fiscal year, was employed for purposes of sending coins to Philadelphia for the Assay Commission.)I After they had been tested by the annual assay commission their value was transferred to the Mint at Philadelphia, thus closing out the stock of coin and bullion on hand at the Mint at Carson.
"Owing to the difficulty in procuring silver bullion for delivery at the Mint at Carson at reasonable rates, coinage was suspended at that institution from March 1, 1879 to June 30, (Thus accounting, in part, for the low mintage of 1879-CC dollars.) and from November 1, of the same year, to May 1, 1880, and from April to October 1881.
"For some time prior to March 1885, Assistant Secretary French, Treasurer Wyman, and Director Burchard recommended acceptance of offers for sale of silver to be delivered at Carson only when the rates were such that the cost of transporting the resulting coin to the Atlantic coast, added to the price of bullion, would not exceed the cost at the mints at Philadelphia and New Orleans.
"The deposits of gold bullion at the Mint at Carson during the fiscal year 1885 amounted in value to $1,505,665, and the purchases of silver to $1,159,138. During the same year the coinage was: Gold $1,051,060; Silver $776,000."
"[The following related items are reproduced from the] Report of the Director of the Mint, 1885, pp. 56, 66.]
"On March 8, 1885, the Superintendent, Mr. James Crawford, died. Business was suspended and the mint closed, pending appointment and qualification of a successor, until April I, when the new superintendent and new coiner assumed office.
"March 28, 1885, the balance of the regular appropriation for 'wages of workmen' being but $7,200 for four months' operations, the director of the Mint, with the approval of the secretary of the Treasury, ordered the suspension of coinage (which had not been resumed) for the remainder of the fiscal year 1885; also, that the force of clerks, workmen, &c., be reduced to the lowest possible limit. The receipt of bullion for 'parting and refining,' and local purchases of silver for the standard dollar coinage, however, were allowed to continue.
"May 8, 1885, by Department order, the Superintendent at Carson was instructed to discontinue the purchase of silver bullion until further notice.
"May 30, 1885, the secretary of the Treasury authorized the Treasurer of the United States to instruct the superintendent of the Mint at Carson as well as Assayers in charge of the United States assay offices other than at New York that thereafter funds to be used by them for the purchases of bullion would be placed with the Assistant Treasurers at New York and San Francisco.
"June 11, 1885, the secretary further directed that no silver be purchased, except silver 'parted' from gold and deposits of mutilated United States coins, and also that a charge be imposed on deposits of gold bullion to cover transportation to the mint at San Francisco.
"August 14, 1885, the Coiner, for want of occupation, was suspended by the president.
"November 6, 1885, it was ordered that the Mint at Carson be closed to receipt of deposits, and clerks, assistants, and workmen be discharged.
"November 16, 1885, the melter and refiner and the assayer were suspended by the president.
"The falling off in the business of the Mint at Carson, which led to the closing of that institution, will, in connection with the above statement, be exhibited by the fact that during the first three months of the fiscal year 1886 the deposits of gold at that institution had fallen to 518 standard ounces, from 23,333 standard ounces for the corresponding period of 1885.
"It having been urged upon this Bureau that the prospects for business had become so greatly improved as to justify the reopening of the mint, I undertook to solicit, through Superintendent Garrard, from parties most interested in such a measure, some guaranty which might justify the Department in carrying out the recommendations looking to that end on the footing, at least, of an assay office.
"The estimate by the Department for the expenditures of the Mint at Carson was for an amount sufficient alone for the proper custody of the building and its contents. But no such appropriation having been reported in the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Appropriation Bill, 1 took occasion, on 5th June, to submit the proposition whether it would not be well to suggest for the consideration of Congress an appropriation the same as that for the previous fiscal year. This was in view of the fact that representations had been made to the Bureau of the Mint of the readiness on the part of certain producers of bullion to deposit the same at the Mint at Carson instead of sending it to private refineries, on condition that certain benefits, which it was claimed are conferred by the law, but which during the year 1885 had been withdrawn from that institution in common with some others by the action of the Department, were restored.
"The recommendation was made especially in view of the fact that the omission of the usual appropriation for the Mint at Carson would deprive that institution of the means to reopen either for the receipt of bullion or for coinage operations, if in the course of the year, at the discretion of the Department, it should be deemed expedient.
"I took occasion also to say that it was doubtless true that the cessation of deposits at the Mint at Carson was largely due, first, to the payment of depositors by draft instead of in cash; and, second, to the collection of a transportation charge from depositors for the cost of transportation of refined bullion to the Mint at San Francisco, by express.
"Up to the close of the fiscal year no guaranty could be obtained which seemed to justify, in the opinion of the Bureau, the resumption of operations at that mint even on a reduced scale.
"Since the close of the fiscal year, however, representations have been made to this Bureau to show the existence of such conditions as might reasonably be expected to provide business for this mint conducted as an assay office. And claims have been urged on the Department of the right of producers within reach of this mint to deposit their bullion and to receive payment therefor in current funds.
"In recognition of such claims it was decided to reopen this mint to depositors, [ and to provide for the payment of deposits in current funds.
"On October 5, 1886, the president appointed Dr. David K.Tuttle to succeed Mr. Stevens as melter and refiner, and Mr. Joseph D. Ryan to succeed Mr. Hetrich as assayer."
Nevada Silver to San Francisco
Most of the silver from the Comstock Lode was not coined at Carson City but was sent to San Francisco, noted the Annual Report of the Director of the Mint, 1887:
"It will be shown that the mint at Carson has at no period of its history received considerable deposits from the mines of the Comstock Lode, their product having continued to be sent to San Francisco for coinage, the same as before the establishment of that mint.
"It will appear, indeed, that very important considerations, now affected by the cost of transportation of bullion, specie, and currency to and from Carson, are most unfavorable to the operations of coinage at the mint, and even to the minor operations of an assay office now carried on that institution.
"The Mint at Carson was opened for business January 8, 1870. Carson is on the line of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad, 34 miles from Reno, on the Central Pacific Railroad, and 300 from San Francisco, and some 14 miles from Virginia City-the location of the great mines of the Comstock Lode. Its population as given by census for 1880 was then 4,229.
"Substantially the whole product of these mines, instead of being transported south this short distance to Carson for parting and refining and coinage, or in the case of silver at present for conversion into bars, has always been shipped directly to San Francisco for parting and refining, for coinage of all gold, and for as much of the silver as required by considerable, and often large, demands from the mint at that city for the 'coinage of dollars ....
"The above statements [shown in a chart] of production of gold and silver in the same section of country in relation to which the city of Carson is centrally located, taken in comparison with the returns from the mint at that city, sufficiently indicate the small importance of this institution to the mining and milling industries of Nevada either during so much of the period of their prosperity as this mint was open, or during the more recent period of their decline.
"The fact above indicated is in general terms due to the geographical location of the mint, which, although near a great mining center, has proved to be far from a bullion center in the strict or commercial sense of that term. That it has never been able to divert from San Francisco, Comstock and other bullion, reduced from the native product, to the extent of its working capacity, is principally due to ordinary considerations of expediency on the part of the local producer, and to the broad fact that an immediate disposition of large values of gold or silver in coin or bars could at all times be made at San Francisco to greater advantage than at Carson.
"[Footnote: Notwithstanding the fact that the mint at Carson City is located but a short distance from the productive mines of the Comstock Lode, higher prices were demanded for bullion deliverable at Carson than at San Francisco, and, in addition, the rates charged by the express company for transportation of silver dollars were higher from Carson than from San Francisco Annual Report of the Director of the Mint, fiscal year 1879, p. 8]
"The expediency to the large producer of gold bullion in Nevada, as between the alternative of depositing at the mint at San Francisco or at the mint at Carson, closer at hand, is determined, first, by the cost of transportation, usually by express. Expediency is further in favor of the mint at San Francisco from the circumstance that returns by draft are at once available for supplies and general use, and from the circumstance that San Francisco has always offered superior facilities for parting by the private refineries as well as by the mint at that city. One of the most important of such facilities is a ready market for silver bars over and above the limited demand for coinage.
"The depositor at Carson is, on the other hand, called upon to transport his bullion to that point and to receive back, usually by express, the value in coin, the excess of which over his local requirements has, as a rule, by a separate transaction, to be forwarded to banks at San Francisco for general use as capital. Or, again, silver bars in excess of coinage requirements at Carson, and in such case not purchased by that mint, are returned in kind to the depositor, when, as a rule, their immediate disposition is transportation to market at San Francisco.
"It is here proper to remark that, as a matter of fact, during the period of greatest activity at the mint at Carson the purposes and wishes of the depositor were regarded as far as practicable by payment in cash at his option in draft on San Francisco or N ew York for silver bullion purchased. Valuable concessions of this kind to the depositor of bullion in Nevada have been made from time to time for the benefit of the mint at Carson.
"On the part of the government the expediency of coinage at the mint at San Francisco as compared with the mint at Carson is determined
"First, by the excess in cost of material laid down at Carson corresponding to the cost of transportation over and above the cost at San Francisco.
"Second, by the greater cost of transfer of coin to the United States Treasury or its branches, and by actual cost of transfer of other public moneys to the extent that United States Treasury drafts are drawn in payment of deposits, for the reason that coin at the mint not returned to the depositor is ultimately transferred at the cost of the government to the United States Treasury, a subtreasury, or public depository.
"The requirements for silver coin on the part of regular depositors at the mint at Carson have been practically limited to local purposes, or mainly to what was paid out in cash for labor-and in most cases much less than the labor accounts of mines and mills, for the reason that large proportions of these accounts have as elsewhere been settled in goods, bought in the East or San Francisco and paid for by draft through San Francisco.
"This is still the only regular local requirement for coin, and the practical limit of distribution of either gold or silver coin from the mint at Carson. Under the existing conditions of the mining and milling industries of that section of the country, the local requirements for coin have become so greatly diminished that but little gold can be expected of deposit, inasmuch as the availability of silver partings from gold bullion, likewise purchased for coinage by all mints and assay offices, tend equally with payments for gold, to meet local requirements for disbursements of coin.
"The express charges for transporting silver coin from the mint at Carson to points cast of the Rocky Mountains have been from $10 to $14 per $1,000, except in the case of a special contract for the transfer of some three million silver dollars to the United States Treasury at Washington in 1885.
"The following statement exhibits the value of silver dollars coined at the mint at Carson from 1878 to the suspension of coinage in 1885, together with the value of the silver dollars actually paid out, and so distributed.
"Coined $7,575,288. Transferred to Treasury $3,118,072. Distributed $4,457,216. Annual average distribution, $636,745.
"For the first three years of operations at the mint at Carson, from 1870 to 1872 inclusive, a considerable volume of silver was deposited for unparted bars. From 1873 to the middle of 1875 large deposits of silver were made for trade dollars, many of which passed into local circulation. For the coinage of subsidiary local coin at this mint in 1876 and the following year comparatively large purchases of silver were made. Since that time all silver coinage has consisted of standard dollars, the monthly capacity of the mint for this kind of coin being some 200,000; All of the silver coined at this mint has been deposited in an unparted state. The deposits of gold, therefore, correspond in amount to the relative proportion of this metal contained in unparted deposits known as dore bullion.
"If special purchases of unparted silver bullion be undertaken for continued coinage of silver dollars at Carson, it is extremely doubtful whether it can as a rule be bought at current rates, as now the case at San Francisco for the limited requirements of the mint at that city. These rates are generally somewhat below the rates current in the eastern states. And it is also doubtful whether offerings of silver bullion for delivery at Carson would in the future be, any more regular, or purchases be attended with fewer difficulties than formerly when required for a stated coinage of dollars at the mint at that point.
"If on the other hand proposals for the delivery of silver bullion at Carson be accepted according to the ruling of the secretary of the Treasury on the recommendation of the Treasury Commission in October 1878, only at a rate of one cent an ounce below parity of London rate, or at any rate less than current rates in San Francisco, it cannot be expected that any regular supply of silver for the mint at Carson can be secured.
"Coinage of silver dollars at Carson, from bullion there delivered at any reasonable or practicable rate, will, as already shown, be subject to a much higher cost of manufacture at the mint at Carson as compared with the cost at Philadelphia, New Orleans, and San Francisco; and also to the ultimate additional cost of transfer to San Francisco or Washington, except to the very small extent that silver dollars may be received in payment for silver purchased at the option of the seller or depositor of unparted bullion.
"It will thus be seen that the conditions of distribution of coin from the mint at Carson, which, even in the flourishing period of the mining and milling industries of the neighboring section of Nevada, so operated as to narrowly limit its output to the local requirements, are now far less favorable, owing to the contraction of these local industries during the last seven years.
"The requirements of the coinage of standard silver dollars under mandatory provisions of law are such, that regularity in purchases of silver at any given mint occupied with its coinage is indispensable. At no time since the mint at Carson has been called upon to contribute a stated monthly output of dollars by way of supplement to the larger production of the mints at Philadelphia and New Orleans has it been practicable to depend on deposits of silver without additional purchases for this purpose.
"Purchases for the mint at Carson by the Commission at this department were seldom without difficulty in procuring the necessary quantity at reasonable rates. So great had this difficulty become in 1879, that coinage was suspended at Carson from March 1 of mat year to June 30, and from November 1 of the same year to May 1, 1880, and again from April to October in 1881. This period was about the beginning ()f the decline of production of the Comstock Lode.
"The cost per piece of coinage at the mint at Carson when mainly occupied with double eagles and silver dollars was 7.28 cents in 1884 and 9.13 cents in 1885, against 1.55 in 1884 and 1.49 in 1885 at the mint at New Orleans-the two mints being occupied with about the same class of coinage. (See Report of the Director of the Mint, 1885, p. 13.)
"On February 26, 1879, the authority, which had been given to the mint at Carson, to purchase silver bullion in lots of less than ten thousand (10,000) ounces was revoked, on account, as stated, of the difficulty of procuring silver bullion for delivery at that mint at reasonable rates, and of the high rates demanded by the express companies for transporting coin.
"Instructions were at the same time given for the coining into silver dollars of the stock of silver bullion then on hand, and for reduction of the force of workmen, assistants, and adjusters to such number as would enable that mint to manipulate such gold bullion only as should be in future deposited, and to refine such silver bullion as should be deposited for return in fine bars. (See Report of the Director of the Mint, 1879, p. 8.)
"These instructions were communicated by the acting director of the Mint with the written approval of the secretary of the Treasury.
"Assistant Secretary French, United States Treasurer Wyman, and Director Burchard, constituting the Treasury Commission for the weekly purchase of silver, recommended acceptance of offers for the sale of silver to be delivered at Carson only when the rates were such that the cost of transferring the resulting coin, added to the price of bullion, would not exceed the cost at the mints at Philadelphia and New Orleans .... (Extract from Annual Report of the Director of the Mint, for 1886, p. 30)
"The only tangible proposition looking to a considerable or regular supply of silver bullion at Carson for coinage up to a stated quota of silver dollars has been on the part of a producer whose deposits were the largest during the period of the more active coinage operations at that mint. This proposition was for the delivery at Carson of silver partings at San Francisco rates, on the further condition that payments for both gold and silver be by remittance of United States Treasury draft on San Francisco, or otherwise, at the cost of the mint.
"Such an arrangement would be in favor of the depositor and against the mint by at least the cost of transportation to San Francisco at $3.80 per 1,000 ounces for silver bullion (or about $3 per $1,000), and from $1.50 to $2 per $1,000 on gold coin. The further effect of an arrangement of this kind would be to stop even the least distribution of silver dollars from the mint itself, thus throwing upon the mint the whole burden of their transfer to San Francisco or Washington.
"OPERATION OF THE MINT AT CARSON AS AN ASSAY OFFICE.
"The mint at Carson has at the present date been in operation more than a year as an assay office of the first class on the same footing as the assay office at New York-that is, with the adjunct of an acid refinery.
"The representations were made to this Department, and on the strength of which the mint was opened for deposits in October, 1886, have not since been borne out, notwithstanding the exercise by the depositor of gold bullion of every right which belonged to him before coinage operations were suspended. Silver deposits only could not be received in unlimited quantity except for parting and return of silver in bars.
"During the last year, as before, unparted gold bullion has been deposited for coin, and the silver partings have been purchased for cash to the extent of the supply of such bullion, which has, however, apparently kept within the requirements for local industrial disbursements. These have become less with the prevailing decline in local mining and milling industries.
"Disbursements for deposits have been largely made in cash, which has been provided at a cost to the Treasury of $3 per $1,000, for transfer of coin from San Francisco.
"[TABLE] Business of the Mint at Carson During the Year Ended October 1, 1887. Gold deposited and parted, $8,407.782; silver purchased, $42,496.29; Silver parted (and purchased) $1,520.34; and silver deposited, $34,983.06.
"From the above statement it is obvious that the convenience at present afforded by this mint to a few local depositors is, on the basis of the operations of the mint at Carson for the past twelve months, at a cost to the mint as high as 18% of the value of the deposits. Esteemed as the convenience is, it is of comparatively little importance to the regular producer, whose general business is conducted at San Francisco, where a market is found at current rates for silver partings, independent of only occasional requirements of the mint at the city.
"The facts above, stated in as brief a manner as warranted by the importance of the subject, tend to prove that the mint at Carson, although, at the time of its establishment at least, not far from the most important mining center in the Republic, has never since proved to be a bullion center like San Francisco or New York, either in the commercial or technical sense of that term. Coinage operations at that mint, begun in 1870, have been since attended with but little further advantage to the citizens of Nevada than what has sprung from the increase of local business incidental to its operations, and from the employment offered to labor.
"The producer of bullion in Nevada, for whose supposed benefit this institution was established, has as a rule found it for his own interest to deposit his bullion at San Francisco rather than at home. The mint service, which was also presumed to be benefited by the establishment of this mint, has gained nothing from its operations, all of which could have been, as still they can be, conducted to greater advantage at other mints.
"While the cost of coinage is some five times that of the same kind at other mints, so as to have been found prohibitory, the net cost to the mint of alone receiving and parting deposits of bullion under the same provisions of law and regulation as in the case of all other mints and the assay office at New York, has proved not less than 18% of the spot value of the deposits, a cost, as held by this Bureau, also prohibitory.
"Under the circumstance that Congress made its usual annual appropriations for the support of the mint at Carson for the present year, after the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives had advisedly omitted to report any, except for the care of building and machinery, the authority of Congress was virtually given for the continued operation of that mint during the present year. The Bureau therefore has found no reason to seek other authority, if such there be, for suspending operations, so clearly proved to be against common expediency, public interests, and ordinary principles of administration.
"No recommendation to Congress has been practicable by way of operations at the mint at Carson.
"Under the circumstances above set forth, the same at present as in the past, and as likely to be in the future, it becomes my duty to recommend for the good of the mint service that the mint at Carson be finally closed, that its machinery and other equipment be distributed among the several mints and assay offices, and that the building be applied to some other public purpose."
Additional Carson City Note (1887)
The Annual Report of the Director of the Mint, 1887, stated that during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1887, 25,000 silver dollars were transferred from San Francisco back to the United States Mint at Carson City. Apparently, at the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 1887, some 9,821 dollars were on hand in the Carson City Mint, and 15,179 had been distributed.
Jack Lee Collection - Arno Collection - Heritage 1/2009:4973, $46,000 - Coronet Collection of Morgan Silver Dollars (PCGS Set Registry)