Charlotte, North Carolina 1838-1861, “C” mint mark
The history of the Charlotte Mint begins when a 12-year old boy discovered a funny looking rock in the water. He carried it home and his father agree he could keep it.
For three years the rock was used as a doorstop. In 1802, a friend of the Dad suggested the rock be examined by a jeweler in town. Once the mysterious rock was checked out and tested, the jeweler asked if he would sell it. They negotiated a price of $3.50– a weeks wages for the Dad. The sell was made and both men were happy.
Little Known First Gold Rush to North Carolina
The massive 17 lb rock was actually a Gold nugget, worth about $3,600. Returning to his creek, the Dad checked out the creek and found lots of Gold just sitting there in the creek bed and just underneath.
Among these “placer nuggets” was found a 28lb solid gold nugget! The Dad became a wealthy man. Soon word spread triggering the first American Gold Rush… to North Carolina.
The First United States Branch Mint
Within 25 years, Cabarrus and Mecklenburg Counties in North Carolina were Gold rush towns. Miners came from everywhere to pan the creeks and mine Gold from the rich deposits in quartz veins they discovered.
Gold was also discovered in North Georgia as well in large quantities. This Georgia Gold was geologically traced to the North Carolina strike. as bizarre as it seems, a great deal of the Southern U.S. Gold was sent overseas because of a logistical problem.
The Bechtlers converted raw gold into coins for local trade. Sadly, much of the Gold ended up going to London. The transfer of heavy Gold ore overseas to Great Britain by ship was cheaper and more logistical than the overland journey to the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia.
Americans continued to need Gokd for currency in a young, growing nation. When Go,d was imported from Britain and other countries we were forced to pay a hefty fee. President Andrew Jackson was no friend of the English having fought and won the Battle of New Orleans, urged Congress to pass a law authorizing the first three U.S. branch mints:
The Southern Branches of the U.S. Mint
- The Charlotte, North Carolina Mint
- The Dahlonega, Georgia Mint — so much Gold was found in the Georgia strike that the inhabitants founded a new city named after a Native American word for “yellow money” – Dahlonega)
- The New Orleans, Louisiana Mint — To process and coin the raw gold and ingots coming into the port of New Orleans from Mexico and South America) The New Mint building in Charlotte began minting coins in 1838. While fewer coins were minted than Andrew Jackson expected, the facility was well-run and productive.
The Fire of 1844
After all this work and effort, the Charlotte Mint burned to the ground in July of 1844. I mean, “cinders and ashes” burned to the ground. Unrecoverable. A total loss.
The minting of coins stopped and the “short” mintage of 1844 makes these coins real rarities. No new coins and a high local demand caused heavier than usual circulation and usage causing them to be heavily worn until the Mint could reopen. In October of 1846, the first coins minted since the fire were produced.
Coins minted in Charlotte in 1846, especially the $2.50 Quarter Eagles, are exceedingly rare. The 1846-C $2.50 is called by some numismatists “The Southern Darling” of U.S. coins, a fascinating historical rarity long overdue for more recognition. Perhaps fewer than 30 pieces in quality “About Uncirculated” condition to have survived to the present day.
In 1849, the Charlotte Mint was shocked by the discovery of massive Gold deposits in California sent local miners packing. Many ‘49ers were formerly North Carolina miners.
Civil War Spoils
The Federal government of the United States owned the Charlotte Mint facility. But on May 20, 1861, North Carolina seceded from the Union, joining the Confederacy.
Confederate troops seized the Charlotte Mint building, the coin dies, minting equipment and mint personnel. shortly thereafter. Interestingly, some of the $5 Charlotte coins minted in 1861 were minted under the supervision of the Confederate States of America making the date an important Civil War issue for collectors and historians.
The Confederacy never did much with the facility, however, and did not issue their own coins in Charlotte. After the Civil War, the building was used for assaying until 1913 when doors were closed forever as a mint facility.