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Despite its favored status among numismatists today, the Carson City Mint did not lead a charmed life. After several years of operation as an assay office and numerous delays, the institution finally received its first dies from Philadelphia on January 10, 1870. It seems only natural today that the first products of the western branch mint were 2,303 silver dollars that the facility delivered on February 11. While production of this denomination remained minimal through 1872, the Mint Act of 1873 and, in particular, the Bland-Allison Act of 1878 would keep the facility quite busy producing Trade and Morgan dollars through its closure in 1893. Although production of this staple coin would suffer the ups and downs of political meddling, the cartwheel's life on the frontier was idyllic in comparison to the smaller silver denominations.
On April 20, 1870, the Carson City Mint struck its first 3,540 Liberty Seated quarters. By the end of the year, another 4,800 pieces would follow for a grand total of only 8,340. From this tentative beginning, the relationship between the quarter dollar and the Nevada branch mint was an unhappy one. The political foes of the silver lobby in Washington, D. C. conspired ceaselessly to keep Carson City's production levels as low as possible. The meager figures could then be used as an effective argument for closing the branch mint whose contribution to circulating coinage did not justify its operating costs. As the high consumer prices on the frontier confirmed the importance of the silver dollar as a circulating medium of exchange, the officials at Carson City allocated the majority of their silver bullion to that denomination. Although quarter production at the facility would increase dramatically in 1876 and 1877, in 1878, just as the mint was entering the glory days of the Bland-Allison Act and the Morgan dollar, the last 996,000 quarters emerged from its presses.
Despite their meager production levels, the CC-mint Seated quarters saw widespread and heavy circulation on the frontier. The low mintage issues of the early 1870s were, of course, the hardest hit by this commercial attrition. The 1870-CC is easily the rarest collectible issue in the entire Seated quarter series.
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