June 30th, 1859.
Printed by B. F. Mifflin.
Mint of the United States,
Philadelphia, November 5th, 1859.
Sir: — I have the honor to present the following report of the operations of the Mint and its branches for the fiscal year, ending June 30th, 1859.
The amount of bullion received at the several minting establishments of the United States during the year was as follows: Gold, $29,563,380.63: Silver, $7,336,709.67. Total deposits, $36,899,990.30.
The coinage operations of the same period were as follows: Gold coins, $17,296,077: Fine Gold bars, $13,113,876.70: Silver coins, $6,187,400: Silver bars, $646,231.47 : Cent coins, $307,000: Total coinage, $37,550,585.17, comprised in 53,550,522 pieces of all denominations of coin.
The statistics above presented show the amount of bullion received and operated upon during the year. They include, however, some re-deposits of bullion; for example, bars made at one institution are sometimes deposited at another for return in coins. Deducting these re-deposits, the amount of the precious metals brought into the Mint and its branches during the year was $34,001,095.76.
The operations were distributed among the several Institutions as follows: At the Mint in Philadelphia, Gold deposits, $2,572,989.63: Gold coins struck, $2,611,360: Fine Gold bars, $49,286.59: Silver deposits and purchases, including amount received in exchange for cents of the new issue, $2,444,923.39: Silver coins executed, $2,999,900: Silver bars, $9,347.08: Cents coined, $307,000: total deposits of Gold and Silver, $5,017,913.02: total coinage, $5,976,887.67. The coinage was comprised in 44,833,111 pieces.
At the Branch Mint at New Orleans, the amount of deposits was $3,322,395.30, of which the sum of $517,822.05 was in gold, and $2,804,573.25, in silver. The coinage amounted to $530,000 in gold coin, $2,889,000 in silver coins, and $334,996.47 in silver bars. Total coinage, $3,753,996.47, comprised in 7,184,500 pieces.
The Branch Mint at San Francisco received gold deposits to the value of $14,098,564.14, and silver to the value of $313,776.33. The coinage operations were as follows: Gold coins, $13,886,400: Fine Gold bars, $19,871.68: Silver coins, $298,500: Silver bars, $29,469.87: Total coinage, $14,234,241.55, comprised in 1,463,893 pieces.
The deposits at the Branch Mint at Dahlonega, amounted to $65,072.24, the coinage to $65,582.00. The number of pieces struck was 19,003.
At the Branch Mint at Charlotte, the sum of $205,252.24 was deposited for coinage. The coinage, comprised in 44,735 pieces, amounted to $202,735. The operations of this branch, as well as that at Dahlonega, are confined to gold.
The Assay Office at New York received, during the year, the sum of $12,103,680.25 in gold bullion, and $1,773,336.70 in silver. The number of fine gold bars stamped at this office was 3,295, of the aggregate value of $13,044,718.43. Silver bars 1,955, of the value of $272,424.05.
The amount of gold, the production of the mines of the United States, deposited during the year, was $27,213,557.15. The silver of domestic production was $273,167.47, the principal proportion of which was derived from the gold deposits, being silver parted from native gold. The Lake Superior region has yielded us about $30,000 in silver. The mines of North Carolina have produced $23,000 of the same metal. The sources from whence these supplies of the precious metals were derived are more fully stated in the tables attached to this report.
Prior to the passage of the Act of February 21st, 1857, a large portion of the circulation of silver coins consisted in the Spanish and Mexican fractions of the dollar. One of the objects of that law was to retire these coins from circulation. This has been in a great measure attained. They have ceased to circulate in most of the States of the Union, and are rapidly disappearing from such distant parts of our country where they are tolerated. Our circulation is thus being rid of a foreign currency, which interferes with our own excellent system of decimal coinage and accounts. It is to be hoped, that this reform in our circulation will lead people to adopt the language of our system, and abandon terms which are absurd, and would be ridiculous if they were not so common. I refer especially to the term “shilling,” which never had a place in our coinage, and was variable as a term of account in different localities during our colonial existence. Since the passage of the Act referred to, the Mint has received and melted Spanish and Mexican fractions of a dollar to the amount of $1,620,997, of which the value of $546,305 was deposited in exchange for cents of the new issue. For this latter purpose also we have received copper coins of the former issue to the amount in value, by tale, of $95,241.
The charge on gold coinage, and the profit on the coinage of silver, and of cents, amounted to nearly $235,000. This sum shows the amount of money derived from the coinage operations of the Mint and its branches during the year.
The suggestion in my last two annual reports relative to the propriety of applying the coinage charge of the half of one per cent. to fine bars made at the Mint and its Branches and paid to depositors, has heretofore received your approval. I beg again to call your attention to the subject. The propriety of the measure is fully shown in your report on the Finances for the year 1856-7. If the charge referred to had been imposed during the last year, it would have yielded a revenue to the government of $65,000, without doing any injury to depositors. It is certainly, for obvious reasons, connected as well with the revenue as with the currency of the country, inexpedient to make a distinction in favor of fine bars. In the report above cited, you remark: “I concur with the Director of the Mint in the opinion that it is not good policy to impose this half per cent. on all bullion coined for circulation and, at the same time, exempt from it bars withdrawn for exportation.”
The gold dollar is a convenient and useful coin, and is well received, particularly in such portions of the United States as have wisely excluded small notes from circulation. The first issues of this denomination were made in 1849. It was then supposed to be necessary to contract the diameter, and, by thus giving more body to the piece, obtain a good impression in coining. But the convenience of handling suffered in consequence of this contraction, and hence, the piece, being of small size, was easily lost, and became an object of dislike to a considerable portion of the people. In 1853, the experiments made were satisfactory on the point, that the diameter of the piece might be enlarged and a good impression in the coinage obtained. Accordingly, in 1854, the diameter of the dollar was increased the one-tenth of an inch. This enlargement has been, I believe, every where regarded as a decided improvement. But the circulation of the two pieces, differing, as they do, not only in size but in devices, is an inconvenience to the public. Again, the amount of the gold dollar coinage of both kinds issued is near seventeen millions. This amount seems to exceed the wants of the community. It is well known that in the States where paper bills of small denomination are legalized and current, the gold dollar, even of enlarged diameter, is scarcely welcome. This sentiment appears to be not confined to those interested in paper circulation, but seems in some places to amount to a popular prejudice. This is not easily accounted for, when the superior advantages of the gold dollar to the paper dollar are considered, and when we regard the conduct of the note holders themselves in a season of bank panic. But it cannot be denied that there are some indications of a popular wish to be relieved from a portion of these coins, as it is well known that, in certain quarters, expedients are resorted to to push them off as a redundancy or an annoyance. From these considerations, I am induced to recommend the recall of the thick dollars, with a view to their recoinage into other denominations. This expedient would suitably reduce the aggregate circulation of that class, and make room for a moderate annual continuance according to demand. The loss on the recoinage of these pieces would be about the half of one per cent., that being nearly the loss by wear as shown by the weighing of considerable parcels taken from circulation. The amount of that coinage, issued from 1849 to 1853, was $11,692,204. Few or none of these pieces have been exported, but a considerable number must have been lost, and some melted down by jewellers. Assuming, at the utmost, that 11,000,000 are extant, the loss on the recoinage of this amount would be $55,000. The recoinage might, with propriety, be limited to such pieces as are now in, or may hereafter be received at, the Treasury and Assistant Treasuries of the United States, and thus it would be gradually effected. The loss on the recoinage might be defrayed at the principal Mint by appropriating such portion of the profits on the cent coinage as may be required, and at the Branch Mints, (where cents are not coined,) a similar provision might be made from the gold coinage charge. If this recoinage should be authorized, it seems proper that the loss in weight, where it arises from the ordinary circulation, should fall upon the government and not upon the individual owners of the coin. Pieces that are in any manner mutilated should not be received.
The statement in my last annual report as to the value of gold from Kansas or “Pike’s Peak,” was based upon a single deposit, which was incorrectly affirmed by the depositor of it to be the product of that region. The Mint being now almost daily in receipt of the genuine article, both in washed grains and amalgam, we can give more correct, though not very definite information, concerning its value. The fineness of the gold has the average range of 800 to 900 thousandths, but generally lies within 825 to 845. The alloying metal is silver, as in all cases of native gold. The value of the gold in bars, allowing for the silver, is nearly or quite $17.50 per ounce, on the average. It is not so easy to arrive at an average of the gold in grains or amalgam, on account of the variable loss in melting. Until within a recent period it was found that this loss would make a reduction of about two dollars per ounce upon the value above stated; but latterly the manipulations at the mines seem to have been improving, as is indicated by the loss being reduced to about $1.50 per ounce, and it may ere long be brought down to one dollar or less. At present, therefore, the Mint value of Kansas gold in grains or amalgam, to speak in general terms, is about $16 an ounce, troy weight. It will be seen by reference to the tables attached to this report that the amount of gold received from the country just referred to, during the last fiscal year, is quite inconsiderable. But it may be noted that since the close of that year the receipts have increased. The amount received at the Mint in Philadelphia, up to the date of this report, is, $97,485.10.
In consequence of frequent application made for copies of our national and public medals, I am induced to renew the recommendation heretofore made that a medal office be established at the Mint. Most of the dies from which the medals ordered by Congress were struck, are preserved at the Mint. But the medals of gold and silver which were prepared from them have nearly all disappeared. They are either lost, or melted, or otherwise destroyed. A few of them, having fallen into the hands of persons unconnected with the heroes to whom they were presented, have been brought to the Mint for coinage. It is proposed to multiply these memorials of our natioual history by striking copies from the dies which now belong to the Government, and supply them to such persons, associations or societies, as may apply for them. No appropriation will be required to accomplish this desirable object, as it is intended that the price of the medals shall cover the expenses of striking them.
In compliance with the Act of Congress of the 21st February, 1857, I present herewith a tabular statement of the fineness, weight and value of foreign coins. It is similar to the one contained in my last annual report, with the addition however of three items of some interest. The first of these is the Canada coinage of silver, commencing with the date 1858, and consisting of denominations somewhat similar to our own, of five, ten and twenty cent pieces. But they do not in any other particular agree with our coinage; being of different weight, and of the British standard of fineness commonly called sterling. The twenty-cent piece compared with two dimes of the United States, is equal to 19.27 cents; but at the Mint price of purchasing silver, will yield only 18.66 cents. The smaller pieces are of the same proportionate value. It is certainly to be regretted that the English government in thus providing for a coinage of similar terms to our own did not make the values the same. This would have been a step in the direction of an international coinage, although of not much importance, considering that silver, in England and her colonies as well as with us, occupies a subordinate position to gold.
The other two items, requiring some notice, are the “Vereinsthaler” or union dollar of Austria, and the same of Prussia. These pieces have been coined in conformity with the basis established by a very recent convention of all the States of Germany. This dollar, although differing in the standards of weight and fineness from the former German thaler or dollar, is of the same value; the variation of 71.7 cents in the case of the old coin, from 72 cents in the new, is merely due to the worn condition of the former. It is very interesting to observe that the German States have discarded the pound and mark weight of various and discordant sizes heretofore in use, and adopted a new pfund or pound, identical with the half kilogram, or 500 grammes of the French system; and on the new coins of Austria and Prussia we have the legend “Thirty to the pound fine;” meaning a half kilogram of fine silver to thirty pieces. The standard of fineness, 900 thousandths or nine-tenths, is the same as our own. It is worthy of note that there is a tendency towards the adoption of a uniform fineness in the coinage of the different countries of Europe and America. At this moment the rule of nine-tenths fine is employed wholly or partially, in the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Chili, France, German States, Greece, Mexico, New Granada, Peru, Prussia, Rome, Sardinia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States. If England and Russia were to adopt the same fineness, there would be a uniform standard in all the principal nations of the world, and hence the coins of each country would be of equal value if of equal weight, or of a difference in value in proportion to their weight. This is as far I apprehend as it will be found judicious to carry into effect the suggestion of an international coinage, which has been attracting the attention of statesmen and men of science in our country and abroad. But it is believed to be practicable to establish a uniform system of weights and measures based upon scientific and immutable principles. Such a system is undoubtedly to be found in the French metrology; and we find that it is gradually extending itself on the continent of Europe, as we have seen in noticing the recent coinage of Austria and Prussia. The adoption of a similar system by us, to supplant the innumerable arbitrary measurements which now prevail, is an object greatly to be desired, and is well worthy the attention of the government and of Congress.
The tabular statements attached to this report are as follows: A. The deposits and coinage at the Mint and its Branches, and the Assay Office during the year ending June 30, 1859: — B. Statement of the amount of gold and silver of domestic production deposited at the institutions above-named, during the same period: — C. The coinage operations of all the Minting establishments of the United States from their respective organizations to the 30th June, 1859, numbered from 1 to 7 inclusive: — D. The entire deposits of domestic gold at these institutions for the same period, numbered from 1 to 7 inclusive: — E. A statement of the production of domestic silver from the 1st of January, 1841, to the close of the last fiscal year: — F. The amount of silver, of less denomination than one dollar, coined since the passage of the Act of February 21, 1853, reducing the weight of such coins: — G. The amount and denomination of fractions of the Spanish and Mexican dollar and the cents of former issue deposited at the Mint at Philadelphia for the new cent: — H. A statement of the amount of fractions of the Spanish and Mexican dollar, purchased for silver coinage, since the passage of the Act of February 1, 1857, entitled “An Act relating to foreign coins, and to the coinage of cents at the Mint of the United States:” — I. A statement of the weight, fineness and value of foreign gold coins: — J. A similar statement of the weight, fineness and value of foreign silver coins.
I have the honor to be, with great respect,
Your faithful servant,
JAMES ROSS SNOWDEN,
Director of the Mint.
Hon. Howell Cobb,
Secretary of the Treasury, Washington City.
Deposited, (including Purchases,)
|Mint of U. States, Philadelphia.||Branch Mint, New Orleans.||Branch Mint, San Francisco.||Branch Mint, Dahlonega.||Branch Mint, Charlotte.||Assay Office, New York.||Total.|
|U. S.||Coin, (O.S.)||2,400||00||2,400||00|
|U. S.||Total Gold||2,572,989||63||2,572,989||63||2,572,989||63||2,572,989||63||2,572,989||63||2,572,989||63||2,572,989||63|
|Deposited, (including Purchases,)||2,420,932||29||2,803,969||73||216,879||48||1,621,660||70||7,063,442||20|
|U. S. Bullion, (Parted,)||23,991||10||603||52||96,896||85||151,676||00||273,167||47|
|Total Gold and Silver||5,017,913||02||3,322,395||30||14,412,340||47||65,072||24||205,252||32||13,877,016||95||36,899,990||30|
|Less Re-deposits at the different institutions: Gold, (U. S. Bullion,) $1,406,135 84, Silver, $1,492,758 70,||2,898,894||54|
|Denomination.||Mint of United States,
|Three Cent Pieces||1,380,000||41,400||00||1,380,000||41,400||00|
|California, (parted from gold,)
From whence derived.
|Mint U. States, Philadelphia.||Branch Mint,
|Branch Mint, New Orleans.||Branch Mint, Dahlonega.||Branch Mint, Charlotte.||Assay Office,
|Total, Gold and Silver,|
|California, (parted from gold,)||10,286.97||96,896.85||603.52||111,860.00||$219,647.34|
|Total, Gold and Silver,||$1,036,692.89||$14,195,460.99||$93,875.93||$65,072.24||$205,252.32||$11,890,370.25||$27,486,724.62|
|PERIOD.||Double Eagles.||Eagles.||Half Eagles.||Three Dollars.||Quarter Eagles.||Dollars.||Fine Bars.|
|PERIOD.||Dollars.||Half Dollars.||Quarter Dolls.||Dimes.||Half Dimes.||Three cents.||Fine bars.|
|COPPER COINAGE.||TOTAL COINAGE.|
|PERIOD.||Cents.||Half Cents.||No. of Pieces Coined.||Value of Gold.||Value of Silver.||Value of Copper.||Value Coined.|
|PERIOD.||Double Eagles.||Eagles.||Half Eagles.||Three Dollars.||Quarter Eagles.||Dollars.||Unparted Bars.||Fine Bars.|
|SILVER COINAGE.||TOTAL COINAGE.|
|PERIOD.||Dollars.||Half Dollars.||Qr. Dolls.||Dimes.||Half Dimes.||Fine bars.||No. of Pieces.||Gold.||Silver.||Total Coinage.|
|PERIOD.||Double Eagles.||Eagles.||Half Eagles.||Three Dollars.||Quarter Eagles.||Dollars.|
|1838 to 1847||1,026,342||709,925||550,528|
|SILVER COINAGE.||TOTAL COINAGE.|
|PERIOD.||Dollars.||Half dollars.||Qr. dollars.||Dimes.||Half Dimes.||Three cts.||Bars.||No. of pieces.||Value of gold.||Value of silver.||Total value coined.|
|PERIOD.||Pieces.||Pieces.||Pieces.||Pieces.||Pieces.||Pieces.||Value.||No. of pieces.||Value of gold.||Value of silver.||Total value coined.|
|1838 to 1847||59,000||13,509,000||3,273,600||6,473,500||2,789,000||28,390,895||$15,189,365||$8,418,700||00||$23,608,065||00|
|PERIOD.||Half Eagles.||Quarter Eagles.||Dollars.|
|PERIOD.||Pieces.||Pieces.||Pieces.||Total Pieces.||Total Value.|
|1838 to 1847||269,424||123,576||393,000||$1,656,060||00|
|PERIOD.||Half Eagles.||Three Dollars.||Quarter Eagles.||Dollars.|
|PERIOD.||Pieces.||Pieces.||Pieces.||Pieces.||Total Pieces.||Total Value.|
|1838 to 1847||576,553||134,101||710,654||$3,218,017||50|
|PERIOD.||Fine Gold Bars.||Value.||Silver Bars.||Value.||Total Pieces.||Total Value.|
|MINTS.||Commence’t of Coinage.||Gold Coinage.||Silver Coinage.||Copper Coinage.||Entire Coinage.|
|Assay Office, New York||1854||86,904,743||17||574,495||47||27,789||87,479,238||64|
|Assay Office, New York.|
|Period.||Virginia.||North Carolina.||South Carolina.||Georgia.||Tennessee.||Alabama.||New Mexico.||California.||Oregon.||Kansas.||Other sources.||Total.|
|1804 to 1827||$110,000||00||$110,000||00|
|1828 to 1837||$427,000||00||2,519,500||00||$327,500||$1,763,900||00||$12,400||$13,200||5,063,500||00|
|1838 to 1847||518,294||00||1,303,636||00||152,366||566,316||00||16,499||$45,493||21,037||2,623,641||00|
|Period.||North Carolina.||South Carolina.||Georgia.||Tennessee.||Alabama.||California.||Other sources.||Total.|
|1838 to 1847||$741||$14,306||$37,364||$1,772||00||$61,903||$3,613||$119,699||00|
|Periods.||North Carolina.||South Carolina.||California.||Total.|
|1838 to 1847||$1,529,777||00||$143,941||00||$1,673,718||00|
|Period.||North Carolina.||South Carolina.||Georgia.||Tennessee.||Alabama.||California.||Kansas.||Other sources.||Total.|
|1838 to 1847||$64,351||00||$95,427||00||$2,978,353||00||$32,175||00||$47,711||00||$3,218,017||00|
|Period.||Virginia.||North Carolina.||South Carolina.||Georgia.||Alabama.||California.||Kansas.||Oregon.||Other sources.||Total.|
|Mints.||Virginia.||North Carolina.||South Carolina.||Georgia.||Tennessee.||Alabama.||New Mexico.||California.||Kansas.||Oregon.||Other sources.||Total.|
|Year.||North Carolina.||Lake Superior.||Parted from California Gold.||Total.|
|1841 to 1851||$768,509||00||$768,509||00|
|Year.||Mint United States at Philadelphia.||Branch Mint, San Francisco.||Branch Mint, New Orleans.||Total.|
|Year.||Quarters.||Eighths.||Sixteenths.||Value by tale.|
|Year.||Value by tale.|
|Year.||Mint U.S., Philadelphia.||Branch Mint, New Orleans.||Assay Office, New York.||Total.|
The first column embraces the names of the countries where the coins are issued. The second contains the names of coin, only the principal denominations being given. The other sizes are proportional, and when this is not the case, the deviation is stated.
The third column expresses the weight of a single piece in fractions of the troy ounce, carried to the thousandth, and in a few cases to the ten-thousandth of an ounce. This method is preferable to expressing the weight in grains for commercial purposes, and corresponds better with the terms of the Mint. It may be readily transferred to weight in grains by the following rule: remove the decimal point; from one half deduct four per cent., and the remainder will be grains.
The fourth column expresses the fineness in thousandths, i.e., the number of parts of pure gold or silver in 1000 parts of the coin.
The fifth and sixth columns of the first table express the valuation of gold. In the fifth is shown the value, as compared with the legal content or amount of fine gold in our coin. In the sixth is shown the value as paid at the Mint, after the uniform deduction of one-half of one per cent. The former is the value for any other purposes than re-coinage, and especially for the purpose of comparison; the latter is the value in exchange for our coins at the Mint.
For the silver there is no fixed legal valuation, the law providing for shifting the price, according to the conditions of demand and supply. The present price of standard silver is 121 cents per ounce, at which rate the values in the fifth column of the second table are calculated.
|Country.||Denominations.||Weight.||Fineness.||Value.||Value after deduction|
|Central America||Old Doubloon, Bogota||Oz. Dec.||Thous.||D.C.M.||D.C.M.|
|Central America||Two escudos||0.209||853.5||3.68.0||3.66.2|
|England||Pound or sovereign, new||0.256.7||916.5||4.86.3||4.83.9|
|Do.||Pound or sovereign, average||0.256||915.5||4.84.8||4.82.4|
|France||Twenty francs, new||0.207.5||899.5||3.86.0||3.84.1|
|Germany, north||Ten thaler||0.427||895||7.90.0||7.86.1|
|Naples||Six ducati, new||0.245||996||5.04.0||5.01.5|
|New Granada||Old Doubloon, Bogota||0.868||870||15.61.7||15.53.9|
|Do.||Ten pesos, new||0.525||891.5||9.67.5||9.62.7|
|Peru||Old doubloon||0.867||868||15.56.0||15.48.2||Do.||New, not ascertained||....||....||....||....|
|Rome||2½ scudi, new||0.140||900||2.60.0||2.58.7|
|Sardinia||Same as France||....||....||....||....|
|Germany, north and south||Five francs, average||Oz. Dec.||Thous.||D.C.M.|
|Austria||Scudo of six lire||0.836||902||1.01.5|
|Austria||New Union dollar||0.596||900||72.0|
|Bolivia||Half dollar, 1830||0.433||670||38.5|
|Bolivia||Quarter dollar, 1830||0.216||670||19.2|
|France||Five francs, average||0.800||900||96.8|
|Germany, south||Gulden or florin||0.340||900||41.2|
|Germany, north and south||2 thaler or 3½ guld.||1.192||900||1.44.3|
|New Granada||Dollar of 1857||0.803||896||96.8|
|Peru||Old dollar of 1855||0.766||909||93.6|
|Peru||Half dollar, 1835-’38||0.433||650||37.7|
|Prussia||New Union dollar||0.596||900||72.0|
JAMES ROSS SNOWDEN,
Director of the Mint.
Mint of the United States,
Philadelphia, November 5, 1859.
|Scanned Original.||A value highligted in green means the shown value has been “corrected” from the value in the original.|