By CoinWeek …..
February may be the shortest month in the calendar year, but it has traditionally been a very busy month for the United States Mint. Not only has the month marked the introduction (or elimination) of a number of coin designs and types, but February was also the month that the U.S. Assay Commission traditionally met to test the quality of the previous year’s coinage. The Assay Commission fell by the wayside during the administrations of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, but it left behind a proud history of citizen oversight of the government and a rich collecting category thanks to the very limited series of Assay medals struck to mark the annual meeting.
For your reading pleasure, CoinWeek has compiled this day-by-day readout of some of the most interesting U.S. Mint-related February events. Enjoy!
February 1, 1799: Mint delivers 40,195 silver dollars.
February 1, 1867: The Shield nickel with the modified “without rays” reverse enters production.
February 1, 1883: The Liberty “V” nickel design enters production. By late February, the U.S. Mint is forced to revise the coin’s reverse so as to include the word CENTS. Often overlooked by numismatists is the fact that the V reverse was a continuation of the design aesthetic of the three-cent denomination. Both silver and nickel types used the roman numeral “III” without CENTS. Precipitating the change was the fear that the nickel design could be altered and passed as a $5 gold coin. One wonders if this fear was perhaps… overblown.
February 1, 1906: At 10:59 AM local time, the first coin is struck at the Denver Mint during a public ceremony held by Superintendent F.M. Downer. The Denver Mint was authorized by an Act of Congress on April 21, 1862. It would take 44 years for it to strike its first coin. No one said the government moves quickly.
February 4, 2021: The First Amendment of the United States Constitution Platinum Eagle goes on sale.
February 5, 1807: 6,812 quarter eagles struck, representing the entire mintage of the denomination for the year.
February 5, 1912: The Denver Mint strikes its first 5-cent nickel coinage.
February 7, 2017: The Effigy Mounds America the Beautiful quarter is released at a launch ceremony held at Allamakee Community School in Waukon, Iowa.
February 9, 1829: 3,403 quarter eagles struck, representing the entire mintage of the denomination for the year.
February 10, 1800: U.S. Assay Commission meets. The U.S. Assay Commission would typically reconvene each February until the commission was abolished by President Jimmy Carter in 1977.
February 10, 1870: The first silver dollar struck at the Carson City Mint is produced. In total, 2,303 dollars are struck and distributed to depositors at a coinage commencement ceremony.
February 12, 1795: Moses Brown deposits $2,276 in gold bullion, the first gold deposit received at the United States Mint. After a lengthy delay, Brown’s deposit was purchased by John Vaughan.
February 12, 1873: The Coinage Act of 1873 is signed into law, eliminating the two-cent piece, the three-cent silver coin, and the half dime. It also adjusted the weights of the dime, the quarter, and the half-dollar slightly upward. Silver dollar production was suspended, and the Trade dollar was introduced. This Act would become a political football referred to by opponents as the “Crime of ’73”.
February 13, 1796: Mint delivers 1,750 dimes.
February 14, 1861: With the Southern States in open rebellion, and two weeks after the state of Texas secedes from the Union, Treasury Secretary John Adams Dix approves of the public sale of U.S. Mint medals. Talk about misplaced priorities.
February 14, 1868: Mint produces 5,000 dime business strikes and 200 dime Proofs.
February 14, 2008: The James Monroe Presidential dollar coin is released. The “Era of Good Feelings” for the Presidential dollar coin program would end in 2011 when Vice President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced that the Mint would no longer strike the coins for circulation but would instead produce dollar coins in limited quantities for collectors.
February 15, 1870: The Carson City Mint delivers 1,644 $10 gold coins.
February 16, 1862: The Philadelphia Mint struggles to keep up with the demand for coinage, despite striking 35,000 dimes on February 15 and 69,000 dimes on February 16. Coinage would continue at an accelerated pace through the year.
February 17, 1802: The United States Mint delivers 1,834 gold eagles. These may have been dated 1801.
February 17, 1936: Bills are introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives to authorize the striking of commemorative coins honoring Columbia (South Carolina) and Albany (New York). Also, a bill is introduced into the House that would authorize an update to the design of the previously authorized Texas commemorative half dollar. Many in Congress are already fed up with the glut of commemorative coin bills. Collectors, initially excited about the series, are becoming irritated by what they perceive as abuses on the part of the coins’ distributors. The pages of the 1936 Numismatist play out like a monthly coin bill tally and bitchfest. It’s a glorious thing to read, actually.
February 20, 1936: New York Congressman John J. Delaney (D-7), introduces legislation to authorize the production of the Long Island Tercentenary half dollar.
February 21, 1853: Congress passes a law to reduce the weights of all silver coin denominations, except the dollar. As a result, silver coins began to circulate again in the East and Midwest. The unchanged silver dollar costs the Mint $1.08 each to produce.
February 21, 1857: The Coinage Act of February 21, 1857, is signed into law, abolishing the half-cent denomination and changing the size, weight, and composition of the cent. More than half of the mintage of 1857 half cents are melted at the Mint before release. A dark day for members of Early American Coppers.
February 22, 1836: The Mint sets this date as the first in which coinage is struck using steam presses. Technical difficulties pushed the actual date of the nation’s first steam coinage to March 23.
February 22, 1837: The Mint makes its first delivery of silver coinage under the provisions of the Act of 1837. Delivered by the chief coiner are 151,000 half dollars, 45,000 dimes, and 60,000 half dimes.
February 22, 2018: The Philadelphia Mint holds a first strike ceremony for the World War I Centennial dollar coin.
February 23, 1801: The United States Mint delivers 1,840 gold eagles.
February 23, 1849: Senator Thomas Rusk (D-TX) introduces a joint resolution providing for a branch mint to be established in San Francisco, California. The resolution dies in the Senate Finance Committee.
February 24, 1872: 1872-dated dies arrive at the Carson City Mint after a lengthy delay.
February 25, 1799: The Bank of the United States deposits $44,020 in French crowns for coining into U.S. silver dollars. These coins are struck and paid out on April 26.
February 25, 1944: In a massive SNAFU, the Treasury Department grants an Egyptian diplomat an export license to ship an illegally released 1933 double eagle to King Farouk. Farouk had purchased the coin two days earlier from Texas coin dealer B. Max Mehl. This event marks the beginning of the government’s effort to seize all outstanding 1933 double eagles. Many coins are surrendered voluntarily by prominent collectors; others are held up in lengthy court proceedings. Today only one example is legally held in private hands, the supposed “Farouk” example.
February 26, 1808: 2,710 quarter eagles are struck, representing the entire mintage of the denomination for the year.
February 27, 1936: Bill introduced into the House to authorize the production of commemorative half dollars for New Rochelle (New York).
February 28, 1878: Overriding President Rutherford B. Hayes’ veto, Congress passes into law the Bland-Allison Act. The law compels the Treasury to purchase massive quantities of silver for the purpose of producing silver dollars. On the same day, Mint Director Henry Linderman informs the Philadelphia Mint that he has selected George T. Morgan’s design for the new dollar coin. The Bland-Allison Act quickly becomes a boondoggle, with hundreds of millions of struck coins shoved into Mint and Subtreasury Vaults. Despite melting hundreds of millions of examples to sell silver bullion to the British during World War I, the Treasury would not fully extricate itself from its silver dollar stockpile until the 1960s. Two million Carson City dollars, the last of the Treasury’s holdings, would be sold off in the 1970s and ’80s by the General Services Administration.
Also in February
February 1850: Beset by a series of technical problems (and possibly sabotaged by his own staff), Chief Engraver James B. Longacre informs Treasury Secretary William Meredith that the $20 double eagle coin dies are faulty, further delaying the release of the new denomination.
February 1891: At the annual gathering of the U.S. Assay Commission, Mint Director Edward Owen Leech lobbies the Treasury to authorize the redesign of America’s silver coinage. As a result of this authorization, the Barber type is developed.
February 1895: The United States Mint submits 3,981 silver coins with a face value of $1,973.85 produced at the San Francisco Mint to the Assay Commission for the Trial of the Pyx. One 1894-S dime was included in that grouping. In December 2020, Stack’s Bowers sold the second-finest known example for $1,440,000. One hopes the assayers used gloves when handling the coin… before they destroyed it.
February 1921: After a 17-year hiatus, the Philadelphia Mint resumes production of the Morgan dollar.
February 1962: For the entire month of February, the Philadelphia Mint only strikes one-cent coins.