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Silver & the Comstock Mine
Carson City Mint
This article is from the book, Silver Fever.
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They called it "silver fever" as thousands of wealth seekers swarmed into the up until then largely unpopulated and uprospected region that encompasses the hills and canyons around present-day Virginia City, Nevada and it's neighbor, Gold Hill.
It was late in the 1850s that the world first became aware that the Washoe, in Nevada Territory, was rich in gold and silver deposits that would come to be known as the Comstock Lode - the nation's largest silver and gold strike.
Virginia City quickly blossomed from a ramshackled mining camp, nestled at the foot of Sun Hill, into a booming, vibrant mining town that attracted attention from San Francisco bankers and stockbrokers - all of whom hoped to strike it rich on the Lode through buying and selling shares in its oft colorfully named mines, including the Ophir, Potosi, Yellow Jacket, Bullion, Savage, and Consolidated Virginia - and such adventure seekers as a young Samuel Clemens, who made his mark on the Lode with the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise before adopting his now famous nom de plume, Mark Twain.
As the Comstock miners extracted its wealth in silver and gold from pockets of ore often encountered 1,000s of feet below the earth's surface, where sweltering heat quickly took its toll, at Carson City, down the hill, a new U.S. branch mint was established in 1870 to handle transforming the Comstock's ore into glittering gold and silver coins.
The Carson City Mint, in Carson City, Nevada, opened in 1870.
Bearing the nation's only double mint-mark, Carson City's CC designation on its coins is today well known to collectors. During its span (1870-1885 and 1889-1893), this Western mint struck silver dimes, 20-cent pieces, quarters, half dollars, and dollars, and gold $5s, $10s and $20s with various designs and including some of the most sought after rarities.
Here' you'll find the story of the Comstock Lode, its discovery, its miners and the dangers they faced in extracting its stubborn ore, and its fabulous silver and gold coinage legacy - as told in chapters from the book, Crime of 1873: The Comstock Connection, and articles fromt he past five years of Coins magazine by such popular numismatic writers as R.W. Julian, Tom LaMarre, Mike Thorne, and many others.
You'll also find the fully told story of the now legendary Carson City dollar sales by the government's General Services Administration in the 1970s and 1980 as reflected in the pages of Crime of 1873: The Comstock Connection. Included is a breakdown of each sale, the categories, and the minimum bids or fixed price levels - important information not often found succinctly gathered in one place.
Also featured is pricing for each of the series that include Carson City coins, so you can reference to current values for all of the coins you read about.
Today the mines of the Comstock, some lying directly below Virginia City, are flooded under. The rush is over.
However, Virginia City remains a popular tourist draw. 2009 marked the city's 150th anniversary, and with plans to restore the Virginia & Truckee Railroad to Carson City, it will prove more so in the future. And for collectors, the stories of the Big Bonanza live on through historic CC mint-marked coins.
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