From 1870 to 1893, the United States Treasury struck coins at the Carson City Mint in Nevada. A mint was built here because, at the time, mines at the Comstock Lode, a deposit of silver ore in western Nevada, were turning up materials for coins. For a few years, the mint made gold coins, including $20, $10, and $5 pieces. The mint also made halves, quarters, dimes, and even the short-lived 20-cent piece. The so-called trade dollars, a silver coin for the Asian market, were also struck. The longest-running issue was silver dollars, which (with some interruptions) were continually minted until 1893. All the coins were marked with a “CC” for Carson City. These coins are some of the rarest issues of U.S. coinage. Even relatively common CC issues often had much smaller runs than other mints. Rare coin collectors often seek out these “CC” coins minted in Carson City.
In the 20th century, Carson City Judge, Clark J. Guild, urged the State of Nevada to acquire the old mint building from the federal government. And in 1939, the state purchased the historic structure for $5,000. The building was remodeled and opened to the public on October 31, 1941 (Nevada Day) as the Nevada State Museum.
The museum still has one of the mint’s original coin presses, and medallions are still struck on this press for the collector market. The most recent 2022 issues honor explorer John C. Frémont and, in honor of Women’s History Month, Agnes Train, a former curator of the museum. For many of these special issues, you can buy a planchet (the blank disk from which a coin is made) at the museum and watch as it’s struck into a medallion on the press. The museum also includes displays of other equipment once used at the mint and a virtually complete set of CC-mint coins.
The museum also includes exhibits on the natural and cultural history of the area, including extensive displays about mining history. In the 2000s, a steel and glass addition built on the north side of the building intentionally evokes a mining headframe, the tall structure above a mine shaft used to hoist and lower equipment and material into the mine.
Know Before You Go
The Nevada State Museum is in downtown Carson City, at 600 N. Carson Street on the west side. There is ample free parking behind the museum building. As of 2022, admission is $10, with children 17 and under free. Contact the museum for information on upcoming commemorative issues.