Ten years after the California Gold Rush of 1849, gold was discovered in western Kansas Territory along the South Platte River near its confluence with a tributary named Cherry Creek. Settlements called Auraria and Denver City rose along the riverbanks and eventually merged to become the city of Denver.

As gold and silver were discovered in other parts of the area, Denver became a major trading and transportation hub during what was known as The Rush to The Rockies. When Kansas was admitted as a state in 1861, Colorado Territory was established, and in 1876, Colorado was admitted to statehood with Denver as its capital.

Early Denver Facilities

The 59ers, as the fortune seekers became known, needed a trustworthy way to assay their gold and silver so in 1862 Congress approved establishment of a branch mint facility in Denver for that purpose. The Treasury authorized the purchase of the land and building at 16th and Market streets from one of the private assay firms, and in 1863, the facility began “melting, refining, assaying, and stamping of the bullion, and the return of the same to the depositors in unparted bars, stamped with the weight and fineness.”

A Temporary Reduction in Status

In 1869, the Denver facility was downgraded to an assay office, but in 1895, Congress passed an act to establish a mint in Denver for the coinage of gold and silver. The old facility was sold and the proceeds were applied to construction of a new mint building. In 1897 construction began on Colfax Avenue between Bannock and Cherokee streets on an Italian Renaissance style structure modeled on a Florentine palace.

The New Mint Opens

In 1904, assaying operations were transferred to the new mint location, where it remains today. Coin production began in 1906 with an output of 167 million gold and silver coins valued at $27 million. Today, the Denver Mint’s output can exceed 50 million coins a day and it is the largest producer of coins in the world.

The Denver Mint Today

Coins made in Denver carry a D mintmark as did coins minted in Dahlonega, Georgia, but there is no overlap since the Dahlonega mint closed in 1861.

Besides coins for circulation, the Denver Mint manufactures coin dies, stores silver bullion, and mints uncirculated coin sets and commemorative coins.

The Denver Mint building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of two mint facilities that offers regular tours to the public. Tour information is available on the US Mint website.

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Great American Coin Company