The main locations that the U.S. Mint used to produce coins are Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. Therefore, when you look at a coin and read its date, you’ll also see the first letter “P,” “D,” or “S,” where it was minted.
Coins minted at a specific mint location can be historically significant, especially if an engraving error was made at that site or the coin was only minted at that particular location. For example, the old Morgan Silver dollar was only minted at the mint in San Francisco. Its production run spanned from 1878 to 1921. Of particular significance is the 1893 silver dollar, which has a very low mintage and therefore is rare.
Learning More about the Mint at San Francisco
You will find each mint location has fascinating histories – histories that will give you an even keener appreciation for collecting mint-specific coins and adding them to your collection. Below are some facts about the mint in San Francisco, the second central coin-producing mint set up in the U.S.
1. The San Francisco Mint Produced the First Gold Coins of the Gold Rush
The San Francisco Mint was created after the California Gold Rush – or because of it. When miners began delivering gold to Philadelphia for minting, the distance, the amount of gold, and safety all became issues.
Delivery drivers were robbed, but the mint in Philadelphia also could not keep up with the demand. Because railroads had not yet been built, the whole idea of moving gold over the prairies became an ongoing problem.
This led to the formation of the San Francisco Mint in 1854, which moved to a larger facility in 1874. The mint produced gold coins that totaled more than $4 million during its first year.
2. The San Francisco Mint was Still Standing after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake
While the San Francisco Earthquake in 1906 annihilated other financial buildings in the city, the “Granite Lady,” or San Francisco Mint, was left unscathed. It was the only economic structure still standing after the 8.0 quake pounded the city a little after 5:00 am April 18. The trembler killed around 3,000 people.
Also called the Old US Mint, the building was constructed in 1874 after the first building proved to be too small.
3. The U.S. Government Sold the San Francisco Old US Mint Building for a Silver Dollar
The second building of the San Francisco Mint outlived its usefulness for minting operations when a new third building was built in 1937. The Old Mint ultimately was declared a national landmark and used in that capacity from 1961 to 1993.
In 2003, the U.S. Government sold the structure to the city of San Francisco for an old Morgan silver dollar minted in 1879 at the facility. The building is used for events and as a museum today.
4. The San Francisco Mint Only Mints Proof Coins Today
The San Francisco Mint has produced all the proof coins for the U.S. since 1968. It does not create any circulating coins today. U.S. proof coins represent the highest quality of coins the U.S. mint makes.
5. The San Francisco Mint Has Produced Some Notable Rare Historical Coins
Besides being the only U.S. mint to produce the Morgan silver dollar, the Mint at San Francisco struck the coinage for the 1909-S Indian head penny, whose mintage only amounted to 309,000 coins. Also, the Liberty head nickel, minted in San Francisco, is the lowest mintage of all the nickels featured on the coin.
Do You Have S-Mint Coins in Your Collection?
The mint in San Francisco is historically attractive. Knowing the above information will give you more insight into the historical and financial value of the coins minted in this locale.