An account written in 1828 by Frederick G. Stark tells of his visit
to the Mint — the hard way, as compared to today, as you will see.
Stark kept a country store in Manchester, N.H. His account was
published by a descendant in the Granite Monthly, November 1881.
Stark left home at 9 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 4, 1828, and went to a
hotel to board a horse-drawn stage, this being before the railroad
era. About 8 p.m., he arrived in Boston and checked into a hotel. On
Sunday, he walked around town, including to a wharf where he conversed
with Rand, a portrait painter. On Monday, he made some purchases in
Boston. At 5 a.m. on Tuesday, he climbed aboard the stage for
Providence, R.I. Arriving there about six hours later, he went
directly to the wharf, where he took passage on the finely-appointed
steamer Chancellor Livingston. Shortly after noon, the ship left the
wharf, headed for Newport to take on passengers.
The boat left Newport at 4 p.m., headed for New York. The sea was
very rough that night and most passengers became sick. Somehow, Stark
managed to sleep. He awoke at 7 a.m. Wednesday to find that the ship
was in the quieter water of Long Island Sound. An hour later, the
Chancellor Livingston stopped, dead in the water. The captain said
that the center drive shaft to the paddle wheels was broken. Around
noon, help arrived from the John Marshall, a steamer from the opposite
Connecticut shore. About 200 passengers had lunch aboard the stricken
Livingston, then boarded the Marshall and arrived in New York about 9
p.m. The next morning, Stark boarded the steamer for New Brunswick,
N.J., where he took stages for Princeton and Trenton. At 9 p.m., in
Trenton, he secured supper and lodging for a cost of 75 cents. On
Friday, he boarded a steamboat for Philadelphia. The next several days
were spent enjoying the sights.
Then on Tuesday, Oct. 14:
“I went to see the United States Mint. There they were, striking
off half dollars in one room, and cents in another. The other part of
the works were not in operation. I enquired how many half dollars they
struck off in a minute, and they said 43. The pieces of silver were
plated out and cut to the right size previously, so that they were
only given the impression. It took three men to do this; all of them
had hold of the machine at a time, and it appeared to be pretty hard labor.”
Whew! What a trip! Today, in 2014, it takes about an hour to fly
from Manchester to Philadelphia. Visitors to the Mint will find a
great reception center and a fine tour.
Q. David Bowers is chairman emeritus of Stack’s Bowers Galleries
director of Whitman Publishing LLC.
can be reached at his private email,
firstname.lastname@example.org, or at
Q. David Bowers LLC, Box
Wolfeboro, NH 03894.