The New Orleans Mint

A Legacy of Coinage and History

The New Orleans Mint stands as a testament to the rich history of coinage in the United States, particularly in the South. Established in 1838, it played a crucial role in facilitating commerce in the bustling port city of New Orleans and produced millions of gold and silver coins before its closure in 1909. Its legacy is showcased in an upcoming auction that features superb coins from the mint's early years.

During its years of operation, the New Orleans Mint produced an astonishing quantity of coins, including over 427 million gold and silver pieces of nearly every American denomination. Its mintmark, an "O", is highly sought after by collectors today.

Lot 329: An 1838-O dime, minted in the first year of the New Orleans Mint's operation. This coin represents the beginning of the mint's long and storied history.

The New Orleans Mint's history is intertwined with the American Civil War. After Louisiana seceded from the Union, the mint fell under Confederate control and briefly produced coins for the Confederacy. However, due to the difficulty of obtaining bullion, Confederate minting activities were short-lived.

Lot 375: An 1861-O bisected date Confederate issue half dollar. This coin is a rare artefact from the Civil War era when the mint was briefly under Confederate control. This seemingly minor detail, a die crack running from Liberty's nose, holds immense historical significance. Early in the Confederacy's existence, four half dollars were struck using a proposed new reverse die paired with a standard US obverse die. This specific die had the telltale crack. Further production by the Confederacy used the same cracked obverse die alongside a different reverse die. This, along with the later die state of the crack, confirms Confederate minting beyond the initial four coins.

Following the Civil War, the New Orleans Mint resumed operation under the U.S. government in 1879. However, by the early 20th century, other mints, like the one in San Francisco, had become more efficient and accessible, rendering the New Orleans facility obsolete. It was closed in 1909.

Lot 330: Another highlight is this Extremely Fine 1839-O half dollar. This coin is notable for its high grade, representing the first year of half-dollar production at the New Orleans Mint (20 proof half-dollars not intended for general circulation were struck in 1838) and the last year the ‘capped bust’ design was issued.

These featured coins and more than sixty lots of USA coinage are now open for bidding in Chiswick Auctions’ Spring 2024 coin sale. Bidding will conclude on the 26th of May in lot order commencing at 3:00 pm. You can view the complete catalogue by clicking here and register to bid by clicking here