The first gold mine in the United States was established in North Carolina at the Reed Gold Mine. The United States Congress approved an Act to establish several branch mints; the act stated, "...one branch [to be established] at the town of Charlotte, in Mecklenburg County, in the state of North Carolina, for the coinage of gold only...". This Act also authorized mints at Dahlonega, Georgia, and New Orleans, Louisiana, after President Andrew Jackson signed it into law.
In November, 1835, Levi Woodbury, Secretary of the Treasury, was notified by Samuel MeComb that he had purchased from William Carson and F. L. Smith a full square containing 4 acres of land for $1,500.00, which is now the 400 block of West Trade Street. Proposals for erection of the building were advertised and the contract was awarded to Perry & Ligon, of Raleigh, NC on October 15, 1835 at a price of $29,800.00. In 1836, construction on the Charlotte Mint began. It opened for business on July 27, 1837. Only raw gold was processed and refined until March 28, 1838, when the first $5 gold half eagle was struck in Charlotte. Later that year, $2½ quarter eagles were minted, and 1849 production started on a small gold dollar. All gold coinage coming from this mint has a "C" mint mark to distinguish it from other sister mints then in operation. The Charlotte Mint issued over $5 million in gold coins.
In May 1861, North Carolina seceded from the Union. The Confederacy took control of the Charlotte Mint. The Confederate government continued coining operations until October when it became clear it was a futile effort. The mint was then converted into a hospital and military office space for the remainder of the Civil War.
After the war
Federal troops used the offices for the first few years of Reconstruction. In 1867, the U.S. government designated it an assay office. In 1873, the General Assembly of North Carolina petitioned Congress to reopen the mint at Charlotte. This request was denied.
The Assay office operated until 1913 when the gold supply was quickly dwindling. From 1917 to 1919, the Charlotte Women's Club met in the building. It also served as a Red Cross station during World War I.
They relocated the structure a few miles south of downtown Charlotte. In 1936, it was dedicated as the Mint Museum of Art, the first art museum in North Carolina. On display are thousands of items, along with a complete collection of all gold coins minted at the Charlotte Mint.
Charlotte Mint gold coins range from scarce to extremely rare. They are some of the most desired items in numismatics today, making the museum's collection highly valuable.
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