The first San Francisco Mint

Because there had been a severe shortage of coins for legal transactions in California from the very beginning of the gold rush, and transporting raw gold to the US mints in New Orleans and Philadelphia then shipping freshly minted coins back to the west was inefficient and costly, President Millard Fillmore proposed in 1852 the construction of a new United States Mint in San Francisco. Congress soon passed the proposal. The constant growth of the population in the west and the abundance of gold made the idea a popular one.

1st San Francisco Mint

On April 3, 1854 the new mint opened for business in a sixty-foot square, three story, fireproof brick building covered with cement on Commercial Street between Montgomery and Kearny. Fitted with the newest and strongest kind of equipment, the mint was capable of coining one hundred thousand dollars in gold daily or about thirty million per year. But even with the influx of these new coins in a day when paper money was unknown, the ongoing business depression, instead of improving, continued to grow worse, much like the situation today.

1854-S $10 coin from SF mint


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