Tuesday, August 5, 2014

United States Assay Office At San Francisco Ingots - Hallmark

In 1962 the status of the Mint Of The United States At San Francisco was officially changed from mint to an assay office. The United States Assay Office At San Francisco operated until March 31, 1988 when its mint status was restored.

The last hallmarked silver ingots produced at San Francisco bear the United States Assay Office At San Francisco hallmark, shown in enlarged format for magnification of details.  

USAO At San Francisco Hallmark 1962 through mid to late 1960's

The United States Assay Office At San Francisco was a primary location for redemption of Silver Certificates. As of March, 1964, redemption of Silver Certificates for silver dollars was terminated and until June 24, 1968 redemption of Silver Certificates was in silver bars and silver granules or shavings. 

To date, I have encountered two gentlemen that participated in the Silver Certificate redemption program. Buz T tells me that in 1965 he stopped by the Assay Office and exchanged Silver Certificates for two silver bars and a bag of silver shavings.  The bars had no stampings other than serial numbers; the weight was marked in grease pencil. Recently Ron G wrote in Coin World that he redeemed Silver Certificates in 1966 and 1967 and the bars he received had no markings at all, not even serial numbers; the weight was marked in grease pencil.

At the other end of the spectrum, Tom P has a bar with the USAO hallmark, fineness and weight all stamped on it. The one from my collection pictured below has only the USAO hallmark and fineness. The black smear could possibly be the remnants of the 103.22 ozs weight marked in grease pencil.

Clearly these USAO bars were produced in a variety of styles and I will continue to research them, BUT one possible scenario is that as the Silver Certificate exchange program picked up the demand on silver bar production did as well and less time was available to apply all of the original markings. The later the production, the less markings until ultimately, no time was spent marking the bars other than with the weight in grease pencil until the redemption program was terminated in 1968. That would certainly hold up between the two dated transactions reported above; a possibility that remains to be researched further. 

Silver Ingots


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