Monday, October 13, 2014

Mint Of The United States At San Francisco Tour


Julie and I are enjoying a week in San Francisco and I had an opportunity to tour the Old Mint building over the weekend with the San Francisco Museum & Historical Society. Given the fact that this building was used until sometime in 1937, at least the very first series of Type I ingots had to be produced here.

The building itself remains a magnificent landmark but has recently become the focus of a legal battle between historical societies vying for control as well as responsibility for  improvement plans and future use.

The north side courtyard and entry are presently being used for building access.

The lower level mainly consists of vault rooms with many older vault doors remaining intact like the first one on the left. While much has been restored to original condition, electrical lighting and of course, life safety components, have been added over the years.

Original construction design techniques included both security as well as earthquake protection. Massive 4' thick stone and masonry walls are used throughout the lower level.

Remnants of original gas lighting controls can be seen throughout the building. The bank of valves below was one of the main lighting control centers.

The main level has also been restored as close to original as could be determined. The small black objects along the ceiling line are original gas light fixtures.

The room below is one of the two identical original assay offices. Across the hall from each other, one served as receiving for precious metals and the other for payout after assaying and evaluation were complete. These rooms have been restored wonderfully, down to matching the original paint colors.
The upper portions of the assay offices are perimeter walkways where armed guards mantained watch over operations below.

A neat experience spending time in the Old Mint and thinking about standing where people dropped off scrap silver and came back for the ingots I now treasure.
Silver Ingots

Friday, October 3, 2014

U.S. Assay Office New York Ingots Part I

My 1892 U.S. Assay Office New York ingot #10, 8.93 ozs and melt #682, acquired at the Chicago ANA Heritage auction, has quickly become my most prized ingot. The more I research and study it, the more amazing I find it to be.


As with other government ingots from the U.S. Mint Philadelphia and Mint Of The United States At San Francisco that I collect and write about, my research has included searching major auction firm archives including among others, Goldberg, Heritage, Holabird-Kagin and Stack's Bowers, which provide information back to the early 2000's. I also looked at eBay completed listings and obtained information from a number of fellow collectors and dealers; all of this to account for as many U.S. Assay Office New York examples as possible. This research has resulted in seeing many more U.S. Assay Office New York ingots of gold than silver. 

Of the U.S. Assay Office New York silver ingots, there are three major categories; 40 oz class, 100 oz class and 1000 oz class. 40 oz class ingots are the most common that I have found. So far I have seen dates ranging from 1908 to the late 1950's. Of these, interestingly, I have seen a total of eight from 1949, all with the same melt #1. 100 oz class ingots are the least common of the three categories with dates from the 1960's and 1980's. 1000 oz class ingots fall in between in commonality with dates from the mid 1950's to the mid 1980's. (Remember that this is only what I have been able to find to date using the research tools above)

Not that those discussed above are not rare, the grand total of all that I have seen is less than thirty five, but the standout U.S. Assay Office New York silver ingots are those that fall outside of these three categories. I know of one 200 oz class ingot dated 1966. I have seen photos of two small 1909 ingots, one is pictured on the flyer in my post last week and I have read an auction listing without photo of a 1919 small ingot. In addition to these standouts, there are the two from my collection, the 1892 above and the 1920 ingot #182, 6.61 ozs and melt #653.

We will look at each of these ingots individually in upcoming posts.

Silver Ingots