Bryson & Son, Printers and Stationers.
PHILADELPHIA, October 21st, 1863.
SIR: - I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the Mint and its Branches, for the fiscal year, ending June 30th, 1863.
The coinage for this period has been much less than during the preceding year; although for that year it was much below former years. The same causes that contributed to reduce the coinage of 1862, are still in operation; and we cannot hope for any material increase until the rebellion is crushed, peace restored, and consequent and increasing prosperity gladden our country.
The deposits of foreign coin and bullion were small; the importation of specie having greatly decreased, if not entirely ceased.
The amount of bullion in value, received at the Mint and Branches, during the fiscal year, was as follows:-
Gold $23,149,495 41; silver $1,674,605 90; total deposits $24,824,101 31. From this must be deducted the bullion re-deposited, or bars made at one Branch of the Mint and deposited at another for coinage. This deduction being made, the amount will be $23,701,837 31. The coinage for the same period was as follows:- Gold coin, $20,695,852; fine gold bars, $1,949,877 90; silver coins, $1,174,092 80; silver bars, $390,204 42; cents coined, $478,450; total coinage, $24,688,477 12; number of pieces of all denominations of coin, 51,980,575.
The distribution of the bullion received and coined at the Mint and branches was as follows: at Philadelphia, gold deposits, $3,401,374 55; gold coined, $3,184,892; fine gold bars, $156,039 74; silver deposits, and purchases, $386,189 73; silver coined, $358,217 80; silver bars, $6,897 83; cents coined, $478,450. Total deposits of gold and silver, $3,787,564 28; total coinage, $4,184,497 37; number of pieces, 49,108,402.
At the Branch Mint, San Francisco, the gold deposits were, $17,936,014 26; gold coined, $17,510,960; silver deposits and purchases, $962,879 95; silver coined, $815,875; silver bars, $224,763 68. Total coinage of gold and silver, $18,551,598 68; number of pieces, 2,872,173.
The Assay Office in New York, received during the year, $1,812,106 60; in gold bullion, and in silver, $325,536 22. Fine gold bars stamped at that office, 1,488: value, $1,793,838 16; silver bars, 1,916; value, $158,542 91; total value of gold and silver bullion, $2,137,642 82.
The Branch Mints in the States now in rebellion are not in operation, and no reports have been expected or received.
Pursuant to your instructions, measures were taken early in the month of April last, to organize and put into operation the Branch Mint authorized by law to be established at Denver, Colorado Territory. The time required to prepare the building purchased for Mint purposes, and to have the necessary machinary, apparatus, &c., constructed in the East and transported to so distant a point, prevented the opening of the Branch Mint for business until the latter part of September, (ult.), when operations were commenced, and are now being successfully carried on. The institution is confined for the present to the melting, refining, assaying and stamping of bullion, the same being returned to the depositor in the form of unparted bars bearing the government stamp of weight and fineness. The institution will no doubt prove of great advantage to the mining and other interest of that region of our country.
Custom sanctions, and it is eminently proper in a report of the operations of the Mint, to introduce a reference at least, to new discoveries and new openings of the precious metals. The progress of our country in every department of productive industry, notwithstanding the disturbing causes of the past two years, has been most gratifying. Among the surprising developments of the interior of our national territory, especially those parts of it which seem to require such encouragement to emigration, and a stimulus to inhabitation, the rich mines of gold and silver may well claim the first place. California, Colorado and Nevada have already had their fame extended far and wide, and are now historical. Idaho at this time especially claims our attention. It is emphatically the land of promise and of gold. This region was set off as a separate territory, at the last Session of Congress. It lies north of Colorado and Utah, and takes in the northern ranges of the Rocky Mountains, with the head waters of the Missouri, Columbia, Yellow Stone and North Platte Rivers. The localities where workings have been commenced, are numerous, but many of them have not been reported or described. They must be various and widely separated, judging from the characteristic varieties in the quality of their production. Among the deposits we have had grades of fineness from 795 to 949 thousandths; the latter in considerable quantity from Salmon River, a tributary to the Columbia. The quality of the gold produced from the Mines of Idaho is equal to that in the older gold regions of our country, and the quantity appears to be inexhaustible.
Not less promising are the Mines opening in Oregon and Washington Territory. The workings are numerous and constantly increasing in number. The characteristic energy of our people will, no doubt, soon develope the mineral wealth of these far distant regions, and thus invite, and stimulate immigration to our North Pacific Territories. In Oregon the fineness of gold seems to be tolerably regular and steady, and nearly equal to the average of California. In the gold from the Washington Territory the variation is great, ranging from 650 to 938-thousandths.
The returns from Oregon, Idaho and Washington Territories are as yet imperfect; but enough is known to warrant the statement, that in quantity and quality the gold of those regions will rival, if not surpass, the productions of the California Mines.
In a former report I referred to the Territory of Arizona and its mineral wealth. That territory is now yielding both gold and silver. The amount as yet, is small; but every new opening strengthens the assurance that the quantity of those metals is almost unlimited. When the troubles of our country are ended, and our citizens can safely extend their researches and, operations, the developments of this Territory will be rapid and extensive.
From British America we received several deposits of Canada gold, which, in some instances, yielded as high as 947-thousandths, fine. The Mines of Nova Scotia do not yield as at first anticipated. A small portion only of the product of those mines reach our Institution -- the greater part being sent to the British Mint.
The reports from the gold and silver regions of our country are very satisfactory, and indicate an abundant and increasing production. The places whence the deposits of gold and silver were obtained, and the amount from each locality, are set forth in the tabular statements attached to this report.
The coinage and issue of the nickel cent during the year has been very large -- almost unprecedented. The demand still continues, and every effort has been made to supply it. This coin has been distributed to every part of the Country, and orders for large amounts are daily received. The profits pay all expenses of the coinage and distribution of the cent.
A great benefit to the country was effected by the Act of 1857, reducing the size of the cent. It is to be regretted, that the idea still prevailed that it was necessary to put into the coin, if not an equivalent, at least a large proportion of real value. To this end, and for other reasons, an alloying metal was sought which should command a comparatively high price in the market, without being properly a precious metal. Nickel, possessing the requisite value and suitable qualities, was selected. It was then worth about two dollars per pound; though it has since been much lower in price. Our cent was, by decreasing the size, reduced in weight from 168 to 72 grains; the former simply copper; the latter an alloy of 88 per cent. copper, with 12 per cent. Nickel; making a coin of convenient size and neat appearance; and containing a half cent's worth of metal, more or less according to market fluctuations. The change was well intended, but the experience of other countries, and indeed of our own, has taught us, that it was an unnecessary liberality; and that all the Nickel we have thus used, has been so much money wasted. In France, they had, formerly a copper "sous," or five centimes -- about the same as our cent in legal value -- weighing 154 grains Troy: but the five centimes of the present day weighs only half as much. This latter is a mixture called bronze, and is composed of 95 per cent. copper, the remainder being tin and zinc, which adds nothing to the cost, but gives character and prestige to the coin. The mixture is less oxidable and more cleanly than copper. Now, this coin of half weight, passes as readily, and is, in fact, more acceptable to the public, than the old heavy one. This is not surprising or unusual. Whilst people expect a full value in their gold and silver coins, they merely want the inferior money for convenience in making exact payment, and not at all for the value of the copper, tin or nickel which may be present. If the law makes it a cent, of legal tender to a proper and sufficient extent, then it is a cent to every one using it, even if its intrinsic, should be only the one-tenth of its nominal and legal value. If any further proof of this fact should be demanded, we have only to refer to our own recent experience when illegal cents, or false cent tokens of the size of the legal cent, were made and freely passed -- although they contained no nickel, weighed on the average about 51 grains, and worth not more than one-fifth of a cent. Not less than three hundred varieties of those false and illegal tokens, or cents, have been made and issued; and until suppressed, were freely used as coin by the public. They were in direct violation of the laws of the United States, and the prosecution of certain parties issuing them have deterred others, and will soon drive them altogether from circulation.
We have, therefore, used a great deal of nickel to little purpose; and much of it from foreign countries, for which we had to pay in gold or its equivalent. We have given it away, under the mistaken notion that value was essential to secure the circulation of our inferior coinage, and to prevent its being counterfeited. The law regulating the cent coinage required it -- experience proves that an alloy more valuable than the principal metal, may be safely omitted.
Nickel derives its name from a certain unpleasant allusion, indicating its character, and which, in a metallurgic sense, it honestly deserves. It is very obstinate in the melting pot, requiring the fiercest fire even when in alloy with copper. It commonly makes a hard mixture, very destructive to dies, and all the contiguous parts of the coining machinery. Perhaps as great an objection as any to the further use of this alloy is its limited use in the arts. With the addition of zinc it would make good German silver, and could be worked up into plated ware. Beyond this, and a few other applications, copper with 12 per cent. of nickel is of no more value to the artizan than copper alone; it is even a deterioration, as it is more difficult to melt.
On the whole, it may now be advised, and even urged, that the law of coinage be modified, so as to provide that the cent, retaining its present size and devices, shall be composed of 95 per cent. copper; the remainder tin and zinc in suitable proportions.
An effort is now making to re-establish in our country the manufacture of nickel from native ores. If successful, as present appearances indicate it will be, the Mint may be supplied from this source, to the entire exclusion of the foreign article.
It is not easy to offer a conjecture as to the amount of cents that will be required to meet the public demand. Before the suspension of specie payments they were already considered redundant in quantity, and it was part of the hourly finesse of buyers and sellers to get rid of them. For the past two years, however, they have commanded a premium, and are now scarcely to be had. Up to the close of this fiscal year we have issued of the nickel cents 164,011,000 pieces. This seems enormous, especially as they are little used in the Western and Southern States. Other nations are largely in advance of us in this coinage. The new copper or bronze coinage of England amounts to nearly three times as much.
The postal currency has given us a renewed assurance, if any was needed, that a small piece of paper if made a legal tender and certain to be redeemed, is as readily current as a piece of silver. There is an important intimation and significance in this fact. All the silver that has gone into the three-cent, five-cent, and perhaps ten-cent piece, might have been reserved for larger coin, and these lesser coins be made of a cheap metal or mixture. Metallic money for small change is more acceptable than paper or any similar material. But what metal could be used for the proposed substitution? Copper has its place; it can hardly ascend higher than the cent. Tin, although a beautiful metal is too soft. Other objections will occur, to brass, zinc, lead or iron. The lately discovered metal "Aluminium," which may be extracted from every bed of clay, -- although it is at present most conveniently obtained from a mineral in Greenland, -- certainly possesses properties which are admirably suited to the "small change department." Firm, ductile, bright, cleanly, agreeable to the touch, resisting ordinary corrosions -- having a medium grade of fusibility, and above all, with a lightness of weight or low specific gravity which makes it a curiosity among metals, and which gives it a character not to be imitated -- these are the leading traits and characteristics that commend it to attention.
The principal difficulty to its use for " small change," or as a substitute for postal currency, lies in the price; which must be much reduced, and reach a probable "minimum," before this metal can serve the purpose. This may be expected. A few years ago, this article was equal to gold in value, a price merely fanciful. It can now be had for ten dollars a pound, which is seven grains for one cent. There ought to be at least, that much worth in the three-cent token and a proportionable value for the half-dime, but it must have sufficient bulk to be recognized by its lightness when poised upon the finger or by other simple process. If we assume that the three cent token should be as large as the nickel cent, then in the proportion of specific gravities, it would weigh 21 grains. Whenever, therefore, by another step in the process of metallizing alumina, the cost per pound shall be reduced to one-third of its present price -- and this may confidently be anticipated -- this subject deserves, and should receive, the earnest and favorable consideration of the law-making power. Its initial discussion at this time may be gratifying to many and especially interesting to men of science. These remarks are intended only as suggestive -- not a full discussion of the merits of this new metal or the purposes to which it may be applied.
I would respectfully and earnestly ask the attention of the Department to the proposition in my former report, to introduce a motto upon our coins expressive of a National reliance on Divine protection, and a distinct and unequivocal National recognition of the Divine Sovereignty. We claim to be a Christian Nation -- why should we not vindicate our character by honoring the God of Nations in the exercise of our political Sovereignty as a Nation?
Our national coinage should do this. Its legends and devices should declare our trust in God -- in Him who is the "King of Kings and Lord of Lords." The motto suggested, "God our Trust," is taken from our National Hymn, the "Star-Spangled Banner." The sentiment is familiar to every citizen of our country -- it has thrilled the hearts and fallen in song from the lips of millions of American Freemen. The time for the introduction of this or a similar motto, is propitious and appropriate. 'Tis an hour of National peril and danger -- an hour when man's strength is weakness -- when our strength and our nation's strength and salvation, must be in the God of Battles and of Nations. Let us reverently acknowledge his sovereignty, and let our coinage declare our trust in God.
Permit me again, to refer to the anomalous character of the silver dollar of the United States, and to the remarks on this subject in my report for the fiscal year, ending June 30, 1861.
The dollar is our unit of value; but the value of the gold and silver dollar, under existing laws, is not the same, and therefore we have no certain or determined standard of value. Gold being more fixed and certain in its valuation, is not only better than silver as a standard of value in our monetary system, but better expresses the equivalent value of foreign coins in our currency; and therefore the gold dollar should be, by law, adopted as the unit value of our money. For silver there is no fixed, legal valuation; the law providing for the shifting of price according to the condition of supply and demand. The present Mint price of standard silver is 1.22½ cents per ounce, Troy, payable in silver coins; an advance of one and one half cents per ounce, since January, 1862.
The statement of foreign coins as required by law, will be found appended to this report. No alteration is required in the statement of last year. But it may here be stated, that several specimens of Mormon coinage of gold five-dollar pieces, dated 1860, have lately appeared here. They are entirely different in devices from the coinage executed at Salt Lake City in 1849. On one side the legend is "Deseret Assay Office," and on the other sundry cabalistic characters. They have undergone no improvement as to intrinsic value. The average weight is about 116 grains, and the fineness 874 thousandths, in some cases probably a little higher; the value reckoning the silver alloy and allowing for charge of parting, about $4.40,
We have had a recent opportunity of examining and testing the new silver florin of Austria, which enables us to settle a question of some importance in custom-house reckonings, and in the adjustment of diplomatic and consular accounts. The weight, fineness, and value, as given in the last statement, are corroborated; the particulars will be found in the silver table.
It will not be amiss to give some public information in regard to certain small octagonal gold coins, stamped "½ dollar, 1859," and "¼dollar," without any name, but believed to be coined in California, and sold as pocket-pieces, or to gratify the eagerness of coin-collectors. Their fineness varies from 425 to 445 thousandtbs, and the intrinsic value of the "½ dollar" is eleven cents, while that of the "¼ dollar" is six and a half cents. They present a good appearance.
The medal department of the Mint is in successful operation and increases in interest and importance.
The national and other medals of historic and private interest prepared, in this Institution, are models of artistic skill; and are duly appreciated by the numismatist and the public generally.
Valuable medals and rare coins have been added to the cabinet during the past year; some by gift -- others by purchase. The daily crowd of visitors to the cabinet, attests the interest taken by an intelligent public in that department of our Institution.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Director of the Mint.
HON. S. P. CHASE,
Secretary of the Treasury,
Prepared by the Director of the Mint, to accompany his Annual Report, in pursuance of the Act of February 21, l857.
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. The 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. of that half, 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 expresses 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 recoinage, 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 condition of demand and supply. The present price of standard silver is 122½ cents per ounce, at which rate the values in the fifth column of the second table, are calculated. In a few cases, where the coins could not be procured, the data are assumed from the legal rates, and so stated.
|Australia||Pound of 1852||0.281||916.5||$5.32.37||$5.29.71|
|"||Pound of 1855-60||0.256.5||916||4.85.58||4.83.16|
|"||New Union Crown (assumed)||0.357||900||6.64.19||6.60.87|
|Central America||Two Escudos||0.209||853.5||3.68.75||3.66.91|
|England||Pound or Sovereign, new||0.256.7||916.5||4.86.34||4.83.91|
|"||Pound or Sovereign, average||0.256||915.5||4.84.48||4.82.06|
|France||Twenty francs, new||0.207.5||899.5||3.85.83||3.83.91|
|"||Twenty francs, average||0.207||899||3.84.69||3.82.77|
|Germany, North||Ten thaler||0.427||895||7.90.01||7.86.06|
|"||Ten thaler, Prussian||0.427||903||7.97.07||7.93.09|
|Naples||Six ducati, new||0.245||996||5.04.43||5.01.91|
|New Granada||Old Doubloon, Bogota||0.868||870||15.61.06||15.53.26|
|"||Old Doubloon, Popayan||0.867||858||15.37.75||15.30.07|
|"||Ten pesos, new||0.525||891.5||9.67.51||9.62.68|
|Prussia||New Union Crown (assumed)||0.357||900||6.64.19||6.60.87|
|Rome||2½ scudi, new||0.140||900||2.60.47||2.59.17|
|Austria||Old rix dollar||0.902||833||$1.02.27|
|"||Florin before 1858||0.451||833||51.14|
|"||New Union dollar||0.596||900||73.01|
|"||Maria Theresa dollar, 1780||0.895||838||1.02.12|
|France||Five francs, average||0.800||900||98.00|
|Germany, north||Thaler, before 1857||0.712||750||72.67|
|Germany, south||Florin, before 1857||0.340||900||41.65|
|"||New florin, (assumed)||0.340||900||41.65|
|New Granada||Dollar of 1857||0.803||896||97.92|
|"||Dollar of 1858||0.766||909||94.77|
|"||Half dollar, 1835-'38||0.433||650||38.31|
|Prussia||Thaler before 1857||0.712||750||72.68|