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Gold Coins of the San Francisco Mint 1854 - 1874


The need for a mint in San Francisco arose in January 1848 when gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill California. By 1850 the gold mines were producing significant quantities of gold bullion. San Francisco, once a small town, was soon a thriving city. sanfransiscomint_main.jpgNearly 1000 houses a month were erected in 1850. A building lot in San Francisco worth $16 in 1847, sold for $45,000 less than 2 years later. Over 10 million ounces of gold passed through this city in the 1850s. However, there was an acute shortage of regular gold coins. Miners were forced to tender nuggets or uncertain quantities of gold dust to satisfy purchases. Privately owned mints were being established to fill the void by manufacturing gold coins. Although not officially recognized as money, the Federal Government allowed these private gold coins to circulate. The formal establishment of the United States Assay Office of Gold meant that there was at least a place to determine the purity and weight of gold. President Millard Fillmore recommended a branch mint be built in California in his first message to Congress on December 2,1850. California had been admitted to the Union only asanfransisco_5_dollor.jpgfew months earlier. In response, Congress authorized the establishment of the San Francisco Mint to strike gold and silver coins. The Act of July 3rd, 1852, provided for the construction of a branch mint. On December 14, 1853, the Assay Office ceased operations. The machinery and equipment were transferred to the new mint. Minting commenced on April 3, 1854. The first coins struck were $20.00 Liberties The San Francisco Mint is recognized as the source for several legendary coins, notably the priceless and unique 1870-S $3 gold coin. That coin was to be placed in the cornerstone of a new and larger mint building that was begun in 1870, However many historians doubt that it was. In just 2 decades, the San Francisco Mint had outgrown its modest facility. This time around, Mint officials were determined to construct facilities that would be large enough to keep sanfransisco_3_dollor.jpgpace with the growing commercial demands of the western states. The old San Francisco Mint ceased operation in 1874.



"They were rough in those times! They fairly reveled in gold, whiskey, fights, and fandangoes, and were unspeakably happy. The honest miner raked in from a hundred to a thousand dollars out of his claim a day, and what with the gambling dens and other entertainments, he hadn't a cent the next morning if he had any type of luck." Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)


Type 1 $1.00 1854

Type 2 $1.00 1856

Type 3 $1.00 1857-1870

$2.50 Coronet 1854-1874

$3.00 Princess 1855-1870

$5.00 Coronet 1854-1874

$10.00 Coronet 1854-1874

$20.00 Coronet 1854-1874