We have heard of no collector who, except in the gold Dollar series, has attempted to confine his pieces to one mint, and have had no opportunity to verify the gold coinage of the Mint Report as we have done in silver. Yet in the mixed pieces of any set, Mint Marks are frequent enough to suggest the general correctness of the Report and to prompt a new ambition.
Certain gold coins have a uniformly larger issue of dates at some one Branch Mint than at all others, and if collectors or numismatic associations in New Orleans, San Francisco, Carson City, Charlotte and Dahlonega, or their vicinity, who have access to bank deposits, should begin to collect sets of the mintage in their sections, as well as chance scarce pieces of others, and should establish correspondence and exchange, one might soon hear of far advanced gold Mint Mark collections which would be an honor to the enterprising numismatists possessing them.
The Gold coin hunter will find the trail in the following pages devoted to different mintages in detail.
The New Orleans or O issue has six dates as follows: 1849, '50, '51, '52, '53 and '55. The 1850 only is rare.
The precious Dahlonega or 'D' mint issues are thirteen, of the years 1849, '50, '51, '52, '53, '54, '55, '56, '57, '58, '59, '60 and '61. Of these 1852 and '53 are rare; 1854, '57 and '58 are very rare; 1860, exceedingly rare; 1855 and '56, excessively rare, and of 1861, which is not in the Mint Report, but two pieces are known, one being in our possession.
The Charlotte or 'C' mint issues are nine - 1849, '50, '51, '52, '53, ('54), '55, '57 and '59. Of these, 1859, '50, '52 and '55 range from very rare to rare, and '54 is not to be considered attainable as, according to the Report, but four pieces were coined and these are now unknown.
The 'S' or San Francisco issues are seven - 1854, '56, '57, '58, '59, '60 and '70, all being obtainable but the latter, which is excessively rare and the only one of the gold Dollar Mint Marks that we do not possess.
The following details will be of interest regarding the mintages named: The '49 O has a small planchet, small o and open wreath (at top). The '50 O has a small planchet, small o, slanting 5 and close wreath. '51, '52 and '53 are similar, but with a large 'O,' and '55 has a slanting 5, close wreath and large O on a large planchet.
The '49 D and the '50 and '51 have small planchets and small D'S, the'49 an open wreath, and the others a slanting 5. The '52, '53 and '54 have small planchets and close wreaths, but the '52 and '53 have a large D, and the '54 a small one. 1855 D has a large planchet and a small D, a slanting 5 and a close wreath. 1856 D has a large planchet, a large D, an upright 5 and a close wreath, as have all the following (except as regards the absent 5 in '60 and '6l). The latter two dates are much smaller than the others.
The 49 C has a small planchet, a small c and a close wreath, thus differing from the two other mintages of this date, the Philadelphia Dollar of 1849 having both varieties. '50 and '51 C are similar to '49 C, and with a slanting 5. 1852 and '53 C are similar, except in having a large C. 1855 C has a large planchet and a small c with close wreath and slanting 5 as before. 1857 and '59 have a large planchet, a large C, an upright 5 and the wreath continuing close.
The 1854 S has a small planchet, a large S, a slanting 5 and a close wreath. There was no coinage in 1855 at the Charlotte Mint. The '56 and following S dates have a large planchet and S, an upright 5 and the wreath close as usual. The 1860 S has a smaller date than the others.
All the gold Dollars present, on the obverse, a woman's head of classic character on the small planchet and an Indian girl's head with a plumed coronet on the large. There are two sizes of the Indian head. The smaller size of the Philadelphia date of 1855 is also seen on the O, C and D mintages of the same date and on the S mintage of 1856. All other large planchet dates have the larger Indian head.
With these our direct knowledge of Mint Mark varieties in the precious metal ceases, as we have found no gold collectors who notice them, and as our collection in bank has no other gold than the One Dollar and Three Dollar series (these being complete in all Mints, except one piece). We can, however, give the Branch Mint dates and rarities of the 'Eagle Denominations,' until their varieties come to light.
The Dahlonega issue is from 1839 to '59, except 1858 only. None are common and the following dates are very rare, 1856, '55, '54, '59, '57, '53 and '40 - the rarest date being given first and the others in order.
The Charlotte issue is from 1838 to '60, except the years 1845, '53, '57 and '59. The rare date is '55, followed by '46 '42 and '60 at greater distance.
The San Francisco issue is from 1854 to '79, except '55, '64 and '74. The great prize of the series is 1858. 1876 is scarce, but no other date should be so from the amount coined.
This ends the Quarter Eagle Mint Marks, as the coin has never been issued at Carson City. There are seventy-five in number to 1893, representing $187.50 in face value.
Dahlonega issued the piece from 1838 to '61 consecutively. The last date is very rare.
The Charlotte issue was during the same period, except in the year 1845. Of the C dates, 1861 is scarcest, with '46, '60 and '40 in order.
The San Francisco list extends from 1854 to '88. Its first issue, '54, is exceedingly rare and should command a high price. 1864 and '76 are rare, '75 and '62 scarce. The rest should be readily found in the far western banks. Carson City issued Half Eagles from 1870 to '84 continously. No date is of small issue and all may be hopefully sought where western gold circulates.
The number of Half Eagle Mint Marks to 1893 is 115, representing $575.00 in face value.
No Eagles were coined at Dahlonega or Charlotte - a great saving of time and money to the collector.
The coinage at San Francisco is from 1854 to the present, except 1875. There are no very small issues, but pieces of '64 must be very scarce and '60,'76, '69, '59, '70, '55 and '67 follow in moderating importance.
In Carson City Eagles were coined from 1870 to '84 continuously. 1879 is rare, 1878, '77, '73 and '76 are more or less scarce and chances favor the finding of the other dates where CC issues are much seen.
The total Eagle Mint Marks to '93 number 80, or a face value of $800.
Neither at Dahlonega or Charlotte was the Double Eagle coined, a fact which aspiring gold collectors will be relieved to know.
Carson City supplies the piece from 1870 to '85 (except in 1881 and '82), and from 1889 to the present date of '93. The first date only should be rare and 1885, '79, '78 and '81 rather scarce.
There are in all seventy-one Double Eagle Mint Marks to 1893, representing a face value of $1,420.
The total value of all denominations of Gold Mint Marks to the same year is a little short of $3,050.
While the majority of collectors engaged with the older Philadelphia coinage in all metals, might not desire to carry this additional sum, it is far less than the more advanced among them have spent in that direction for pieces that would not average in intrinsic value a fifth of the amount named.
As the premiums upon gold coin are relatively much lower than on any other, a collection of gold Mint Marks would be not only a very interesting pursuit to the wealthy numismatist or to any prominent institution, but would prove neither extravagant or unprofitable, for such a collection would be a distinguishing possession and if bought prudently, would sell, if necessary, much closer to its cost than many miscellaneous collections of silver and copper which are thrown upon the market.
Collectors should, at all events, if living near any one of the Branch Mints, seek to gather a series of one or more of its gold denominations. They should without fail, save the rarest dates of any series if chancing upon them, for with the decline of Mint Mark coinage, such pieces will attain very great value.
These rarest pieces of Branch Mint Gold Coinage we assemble on the following page in the order of Date but not of value, to be better remembered.
Three Dollars. - D 1854; S '55, '57, '60.
Half Eagles. - D 1861; S 1854, '64, '76.
Eagles. - O 1883, '79, '59, '41; S 1864; CC 1879.
Double Eagles. - O 1854, '56 and '79; CC 1890.
There are a few more or less scarce dates in each series which have been already noted and are not included here that the rare pieces may be clearly distinguished.
From the very limited use of gold in the greater part of the United States, these pieces are not to be found by simply waiting for them to appear in circulation as in the case of silver coin, nor will they form part of the collections that revert to dealers for sale. It becomes therefore of the utmost importance that dealers and collectors should use all influence to examine the gold reserve of the banks in their vicinity, or that paying tellers, and those persons who count the cash in Government vaults, Sub-Treasuries, Branch Mints and private financial institutions, should be somewhat informed numismatically, both for their own profit and the enriching of private and public collections by their discoveries. But it would cause less delay here also if some experienced collector were authorized to be present when the counting of coin was in progress, both to see the contents of sacks and to mark upon them as far as possible the period of the coinage they contained.
Furnished with a number of pieces of the denominations undergoing count, his trained eye could quickly detect rarities which he could at once secure and replace.