Long Beard's Blog

15 Feb 2020

The New Orleans Mint

Coins-United States | Long Beard

This is my very first attempt at a blog, so please bear with me. As I progress, getting more accustom to technology, I'll post once a week with similar types of subject matter. Enjoy!

My first subject involves the New Orleans Mint and the highly sought after rarity, the 1838o Capped Bust Half Dollar. In the early years of coinage, precious metals such as gold and silver made a long trip from various sources to the mint at Philadelphia. With New Orleans being a primary port, and second largest city only to New York at the time, this slow delay to keep up with coining money for commerce needed to be addressed. On March 3, 1835 appropriations were made by Congress for three branch mints. Dahlonega, Charlotte and New Orleans the latter receiving $200,000 for their mint operations.

Having received 12 pairs of dies (half dime, dime and half dollar) from the Philadelphiamint, coining began on May 3, 1838 withthirty dimes bearing an o mintmark struck.As is common, problems with the presses began causing delays in subsequent strikings. To compound matters, an outbreak of yellow fever caused the new mint to shutter it's doors through most of thesummer and into October. With coining resuming in November, again with dimes and half dimes, no half dollarshad nor would be struck for the year 1838. As such, this aggravated Mint Director Robert M. Patterson in Philadelphia. In a letter received January 17, 1839 mint superintendent David Bradford was ordered to waste no time getting much needed half dollars coined for commerce. Remember, with out them half dollars had to come from Philadelphia which took time. At once coiner Rufus Tyler was tasked with striking half dollars as instructed despite not having dies bearing the year 1839 as of yet. As in the previous year, a problem quickly arose. The dies on hand weretoo short to seat fully in the screws for adequate striking. Through trial and error he managed to block up the lower die and strike ten pieces before failure once more, writing to Patterson on February 25 of as much.To date this is the first mention of 1838 halves struck at New Orleansin mint records. On March 7,Superintendent Bradford wrote Patterson on the progress, or lack thereof, stating that the crushing of the block had been addressed and that the dies which arrived bearing 1839 could be used at once. From the records it seems clear that David Bradford was attempting to dodge blame.

What ever the case may be, only 11 Capped Bust Half Dollars areknown to exist. Yet one has to wonder how many were struck after the tenreported ten in February and the change over to 1839 in early March. Tyler simply stated "not more than twenty.".

The provided image is from PCGS



Level 5

This was new to me, thanks for the knowledge. I have some old "O" coinage and have always been interested but never took the time to look it up. Thanks again.


Level 5

Most people will know about a low mintage year, but usually there is a story behind why so few were minted. I haven't heard of this one yet. Great blog!


Level 5

Great blog. Thanks for sharing the history lesson. This is how we all learn from each other.


Level 6

Welcome. Great blog. I learned from it. That's as good as it gets. I am a fan of the New Orleans Mint. Ton of history. Thanks..


Level 6

Really interesting first blog! Great job ; ) Welcome to the ANA!


Level 3

amazing history


Level 5

Thanks for the blog, I look forward to your future blogs on the New Orleans Mint. I have always had an interest in the history of the New Orleans Mint and the coins manufactured there.


Level 5

Welcome to the site. Looking for more to come. thanks for the blog.


Level 5

Very interesting and informative. Dont own any capped bust half dollars. Thanks for the information.


Level 4

Thanks for the blog, the O mint is one of my favorite mints. The 1860 and 1861-O coins struck at the New Orleans mint are also a favorite for their historical value. One thing I think could help with your blogs is to space out into smaller paragraphs; it makes it easier to read. Anyways thanks again for the great first blog, I'll be waiting for your next one.


Level 6

Interesting Blog and a great effort for your first. Your weekly blogs will be a tremendous boon to this merry band of bloggers.


Level 7

Great job on your first blog it was interesting . I picked up a few things such is why we write them. A lot of history I have a love of history when it comes to coins. They tell the story of our history as long as you listen to it. Thanks.

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