In the 1860s, two U.S. Mint production facilities were in
operation — one in Philadelphia and one in San Francisco.
The latter had opened in 1854 in slightly remodeled facilities
earlier used by Moffat & Co., private coiners of gold. The
building was poorly ventilated and conditions were cramped. On Feb.
10, 1866, melter and refiner Walter S. Denio died of lung congestion
caused by noxious fumes. Subsequently Mint Director James Pollock,
based at the Philadelphia facility, made this plea in his Annual Report:
“I cannot too earnestly urge upon the government the importance of
erecting a new Mint building at San Francisco. The present building is
not only wholly unfitted for the large and increasing business of that
Branch Mint, but unsafe, and unworthy of the great mineral wealth of
the Pacific States. ...”
This set in motion a slow process that resulted in the cornerstone
being laid for the new San Francisco Mint in 1870 and the building
opening for business in 1874. The coinage of 1870 remains somewhat of
a mystery today.
It is said that two 1870-S Indian Head gold $3 coins were made to
put in the cornerstone. Only one is known now — at the Harry W. Bass
Jr. Gallery in the American Numismatic Association headquarters in
Colorado Springs, Colo. About 10 1870-S Seated Liberty dollars are
known today, but there is no record of their having been coined. About
35 years ago, an 1870-S Seated Liberty half dime, for which no record
of production exists, was brought in to RARCOA, the Chicago
dealership. The coin is unique.
In the meantime, plans were being laid for two more Mints. In 1870,
the Carson City Mint opened. The second facility was
at The Dalles, a town on the Columbia River in
Oregon. Gold and silver were found in quantity in the state in the
1860s, and it was desired to have a federal Mint where these metals
could be processed and coined.
On July 4, 1864, Congress approved legislation for the facility. A
square block of land was purchased. Work commenced in 1869. Fate was
not kind, and in 1871 the structure, still being worked on, was
ravaged by fire. The mess was cleaned up, and work began anew. It was
soon realized that the boom of the 1860s was over, and the structure
was abandoned. In 1875 the building and land were gifted to the state
of Oregon. It remains today, now used for commercial purposes.
Accordingly, we have no coins with TD Mint marks.
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