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Anyone who has ever been to Carson City, Nevada, has probably walked or driven past the old mint. For coin collectors the little stone building is nostalgic, a place that lures our imaginations back to a time of simplicity in the American West. Most of the public, of course, has no idea that this place on the main street, just a few blocks from the seat of state government and within "jingling" noise distance of the casinos, once poured out a river of beautiful, bright, brand-new coins, mostly silver coins, made from ore taken from mines not far away. The Comstock Lode created Nevada's first millionaires, out of ordinary men. At first they had no market for their product. The Bland-Allison Act of 1878 was a political boondoggle of its time, a favoritism of American brand, born to use up the tons of silver that eventually shored up the wealth of the Treasury, but in 1878 was a godsend to nobody but the silver miners. A dozen years after the Morgan dollar was born, millions sat unused in government vaults as backing for the increasing volume of paper currency "certificates" in circulation. In 1890, the Bland-Allison Act was repealed. The Sherman Act replaced it on July 14 of that year. In his masterful study Fractional Money, Neil Carothers explains that "Under the new provisions the Treasury was to buy 4,500,000 ounces of silver per month, to be paid for with Treasury notes that were to be legal tender. The notes were to be redeemable in gold coin or in silver dollars coined from the bullion purchased." This act, in fact, bolstered government support for Nevada's silver miners, providing a use for their product. Some 5.8 million silver dollars were minted every month beginning in 1890, yet most of the Treasury notes were redeemed in gold. The government's vaults soon bulged with gleaming new silver dollars. "In 1893," Carothers notes, "a series of adverse economic developments brought disaster to the Treasury." Its store of gold was being rapidly diminished, while silver was accumulating. "This operation, which would eventually destroy the solvency of the government, was merely the process by which the excessive issues of silver dollars and paper money were displacing gold ... " which was being exported to Europe. In 1890 the Sherman Act was repealed. "As a net result of the laws of 1878 and 1890 the country acquired approximately 570,000,000 silver dollars," Carothers states. Politicians argued the merits of gold versus silver. Silver dollars circulated mainly in the west and south. When the Carson City Mint was closed in 1893, the nation was awash in silver dollars, gleaming new coins not quite worth their intrinsic value. It was the end of an era at Carson City, and an alluring rarity was born.
Even if the 1893-CC silver dollar was not a low mintage issue with a low survival rate, it would still be popular as the final year of issue, just as the 1893-CC double eagle is of interest to collectors.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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