The Dahlonega Mint was a short-lived (1838 to 1861) branch facility of the U.S. Mint located in Georgia. Its service was eventually cut short by the Civil War. At the time of its opening, there was a mini gold rush occurring in the mountains of Dahlonega, which is actually the word for “yellow money” in the Cherokee language.
Because of low mintage totals and relatively low survival rates, as well as the novelty of being struck by a mint that no longer operates, issues from Dahlonega and its (similarly short-lived) Southern counterparts in Charlotte and New Orleans are prized items on the numismatic market. The Dahlonega Mint only struck gold coins (as was the case for the Charlotte Mint), which are distinguished by a “D” mintmark on the reverse. (This was before the Denver Mint existed.)
Incredibly, one collector who had a complete collection of these rare coins—meaning one example of each denomination from each year—has actually donated his collection to the University of Georgia!
Talk about a voluntary act of kindness!
Paul Gilkes of Coin World reported the story, and detailed that the collector assembled his “Reed Creek Collection” in less than ten years. (He began his quest in 2008.) The set includes 62 different gold coins, all of which have been graded and authenticated, and is undoubtedly worth millions of dollars as a complete collection. From June through December, it will go on display in an exhibit entitled “Gold-digging in Georgia: America’s First Gold Rush.”
A complete collection such as this one is extremely rare and highly desirable. This is also the case with the New Orleans (“O” mintmark) and Charlotte (“C” mintmark) gold issues. Sometimes, the three are collected together because all three are located in the South and no longer running.
Perhaps the rarest coin in the collection (and, if nothing else, was the most difficult to obtain) was an 1861-D Indian Head Gold Dollar, an issue which was only struck by the mint after it was seized by the Confederacy at the outset of the Civil War. There’s no definitive mintage for the 1861-D Gold Dollar, but estimates place it at no more than 1,500 coins.
Interestingly, during the 1870s, the defunct minting facility was converted into a building for the university, adding to the local connection.
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