Big Things Have Happened at the United States Mint in the Month of December

By CoinWeek …..

The month of December has historically been a time for Americans to take it easy, spend time with their family, celebrate the holidays, and prepare for the New Year. Not so for the United States Mint. Since its founding in 1792, the Mint has worked month after month, often around the clock, through war and peace to strike the nation’s coins.

CoinWeek has dug through more than 228 years of Mint history to provide this list of important December goings-on at the U.S. Mint. This list denotes important visits, important personnel changes, and historic strikings.

December 1, 1794: The Mint delivers its first shipment of half dollars, 5,300 to be exact. No silver coinage is delivered for the rest of the year.

December 1, 1862: Mint Superintendent James Pollock writes Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase raising concerns about the Mint’s ability to obtain sufficient quantities of nickel to strike one-cent coins.

1862 Indian Head cent in Proof.

December 1, 2016: The Uncirculated version of the 30th Anniversary American Silver Eagle goes on sale.

December 2, 1854: Chief coiner Franklin Peale, no friend to Chief Engraver James Longacre, whose position he clearly coveted, is forced to leave the Mint’s employ. Peale did appeal to Congress numerous times for remuneration for unpaid work. Congress ultimately paid $10,000 to his daughter, three years after his death, in 1873.

December 2, 1877: Mint Director Linderman sends Philadelphia Mint Superintendent James Pollock design details for the Mint to create “goloid” patterns based on William Wheeler Hubbell’s proposal.

December 5, 1848: President James K. Polk proposes the establishment of a new branch Mint in San Francisco, California.

December 8, 1921: First Peace dollars are struck.

December 10, 1860: Treasury Secretary Howell Cobb resigns his post to join the Confederacy.

1979 Susan B. Anthony dollars – Wide and Narrow Rim varieties shown.

December 13, 1978: The Philadelphia Mint begins production of the 1979 Susan B. Anthony dollar. The coin was the first U.S. coin to feature the P mintmark since World War II.

December 14, 1891: After a lengthy back-and-forth between Philadelphia Mint Superintendent Oliver C. Bosbyshell and Mint Director Edward O. Leech concerning Barber’s new coin design, Leech orders the dies to be prepared without delay.

December 14, 1899: The entire mintage of the Lafayette half dollar is struck. 26 of which are held for assay.

December 15, 1848: The Mint receives $3,910 of California gold from War Secretary William L. Marcy. This deposit is used to strike the famous 1848 CAL. quarter eagles.

1883 $3.00 PCGS AU58. Images courtesy Doug Winter
1883 $3.00 PCGS AU58. Images courtesy Doug Winter.

December 15, 1883: The Philadelphia Mint delivers the year’s entire mintage of business strike Three Dollar gold coins, 900 pieces.

December 17, 1878: Mint begins to issue gold coins into the market for the first time since 1861. In short order, gold achieves parity with paper money in circulation.

December 20, 1958: President Dwight D. Eisenhower announces a change to the reverse of the Lincoln cent, adopting Frank Gasparro’s Memorial design.

December 22, 1849: After an arduous development cycle, James Longacre’s finished $20 gold coin dies are used to strike at least two 1849 double eagles. Today, the only known example is housed at the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution and is valued by Jeff Garrett at over $25 million. We value it at $17.28 million, with the juice, but who’s counting?

1849 Double Eagle. The only example known. Image: National Numismatic Collection / Smithsonian Institution.

December 26, 1849: Treasury Secretary William Meredith approves Longacre’s $20 gold coin design. The coin enters regular production in 1850.

December 28, 1792: President George Washington visits the Mint to inspect its operations. The previous day, the Mint had assayed a deposit of foreign silver coins.

December 29, 1799: The Bank of the United States deposits $44,015.71 worth of French Crowns for coining into U.S. silver dollars. The Mint delivers the coins in February 1800.

December 30, 1861: New York banks suspended specie payments for Greenbacks. This move would reverberate through the country.

December 30, 1963: A week after President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas, legislation authorizing the production of the Kennedy half dollar is signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson.

December 31, 1873: The Carson City Mint strikes 5,000 $20 gold coins, wrapping up the year’s total output of 22,410 for the denomination.

1873-CC $20 Liberty Head Double Eagle.

December 1815: The Mint strikes 69,000 quarters and ships 60,000 of them to Planter’s Bank of New Orleans. This is the first order for the denomination since 1807, prompting the creation of a new design.

December 1835: France and America settle a diplomatic dispute dating back to the undeclared naval war of 1799-1800. France agreed to pay America 25 million francs in gold. The Mint recoined these francs into American gold coins and paid them out to ship owners and merchants impacted by the conflict.

December 1836: The Mint strikes more than 1,000 Gobrecht silver dollars on a screw press in Philadelphia. These are the first U.S. coins bearing the Seated Liberty motif.

December 1840: Mint revises the obverse of the dime.

December 1942: U.S. Mint hires Frank Gasparro.

1794 Flowing Hair Half Dollar. Overton-101a Variety. Image: PCGS.

Late December 1838: The New Orleans Mint strikes 35,000 dimes, wrapping up dime production for the branch mint’s inaugural year. The 30 dimes struck at New Orleans on May 8 were the first coins struck at the new mint.

Late December 1860: Louisiana state officials visit the New Orleans Mint and inform the staff that the facility is now under state control.


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