U.S. Mint Dahlonega, Georgia 1838-1861, “D” mint mark
The long-closed, nearly forgotten Southern Branch U.S. Mints typically minted the fewest coins, and for collectors are the rarest and hardest to find of all rare coins.
My fascination with the Dahlonega Mint began when an avid buyer for us, found a small stash. Along with the coins, he had assembled several of the little known books about this mint. The books were literally falling apart. Inside there was documentation on the Dahlonega Mint Gold coins— official records of how many of each coin were struck by year, by coin denomination.
This documentation was rare, not in “Red Books” of the time. As my numismatic team and I looked through the low, unbelievably low, mintages for some dates and denominations we were thrilled. In addition, I was really surprised at how these “D” Mint coins were so underpriced next to comparable grades and original mintages of coins from other mints.
My buyer turned to me and said, “If you have something that’s extremely rare, but no one knows about it— prices wil be low. Everyone is afraid to bid up prices because we just don’t know how many have survived. With this research, we can actively pursue buying these for our collectors. Over time, more people will know about 5hem and bud up prices.”
During the time frame of the operation of the Dahlonega Mint yyy to yyy Georgia was still in the Union. After placer Gold was discovered in a geologic area bordering North Carolina and Georgia, miners flooded into the area with pick axes and shovels hoping to strike it rich.
As Gold was first being discovered, large nuggets were found weighing pounds each. The search for Gold became more difficult to find over time. The quality of the raw Gold came in smaller and smaller nuggets, Gold dust, and finally ore. Someone had to determine the quality, the net quantity each miner had. This process is done by assayers who melted samples of the raw Gold, skimmed off impurities, and precisely (and honestly) weighed the Gold.
To achieve the best results, Government Assay offices we’re opened near the Gold fields. Over time, the Government could accurately measure the wealth being created. In boom areas like North Carolina and Dahlonega, Georgia the U.S. Government was eager to convert the raw Gold into coinage, official legal tender coins, that could rapidly move into circulation by being spent to stimulate the economy.
The U.S Mint at Dahlonega was opened in 1838. Its mission was to produce Gold Coins for circulation in what was then the Southern Frontier of the United States. The mint was supplied with state-of-the-art steam driven, toggle joint coin presses.
Young America was still producing its wealth Mostly through agricultural export. The newly found Gold, combined with miners ready to spend it, produced an ideal way to grow the economy.
The Mint Act of 1835, established by the United States Congress on 3 March, established “one branch at the city of New Orleans for the coinage of gold and silver; one branch at the town of Charlotte…for the coinage of gold only; and one branch at or near Dahlonega, in Lumpkin County, in the state of Georgia, also for the coinage of gold only.
These we’re low dollar denominations that went into circulation immediately and passed hand to hand, were stacked for counting, and rubbed together in miners pockets. As a result, the “D” Mint Gold Coins that have survived are mostly in circulated condition, not Mint State.
The Civil War
When the American Civil War began in 1861, the Dahlonega Mint was seized by the Confederates. After they took over the mint in 1861, some gold dollars and half eagles were minted by the Confederate States Government. The exact number of 1861-D gold dollars minted is unknown. An estimated 1,597 1861-D Half eagles were struck.
After the end of the Civil War, The United States Government did not reopen the mint.
I cannot overstate this point: Because of their relatively low original mintage, all Dahlonega-minted Gold coins are considered to be rare in any condition. We highly recommend them to serious rare coin collectors.