Editor’s note: This is one in a series of Coin World Collector
Basics posts on facilities under the U.S. Mint’s jurisdiction.
discovery of gold in California in 1849 forced the need for a Branch
Mint of the United States on the West Coast to refine the newly mined
gold for striking into federal coinage instead of shipping the metal
to the Philadelphia Mint for the same purpose. Private minters filled
the void until Congress approved in 1852 a federal coinage facility to
be located in San Francisco.
first San Francisco Mint opened for production in 1854 in one of the
private mint facilities in the city, but it didn’t take long for
authorities to realize production would outgrow the facility’s
the inaugural year's production were 246 1854-S Coronet gold $2.50
quarter eagles, 12 of which are reported known today.
the years following World War II, officials determined the
Philadelphia and Denver Mints were capable of handling the nation’s
coinage needs. Coinage operations at the second San Francisco Mint,
opened in 1874, were suspended in March 1955, with all production
equipment removed. The facility was converted to an Assay Office, a
status formally designated by Congress on July 11, 1962.
San Francisco facility was returned to full Mint status by way of the
same March 31, 1988, legislation that elevated West Point to full Mint
status. The third facility, today, primarily produces annual Proof coins.