U.S. Mint New Orleans Mint.

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The history of rare gold mint coins intertwines with the growth and economic development of the United States. Beginning in 1795, the Philadelphia Mint played a pivotal role in establishing a uniform currency. As America embraced the Gold Standard, the demand for gold coins surged, leading to the minting of coins valued under $20 an ounce. The narrative expands to include significant events such as the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and ClarkThe old New Orleans mint is pretty cool, but it’s surprisingly small. What also brought me down was the fact that in the gift shop, out of all the items available for sale, there was only one mint-related item. Literally just that one item.
I always wondered if it was worth checking out the Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint, considering its billing. It’s good to find out there’s still a decent amount of numismatic stuff there. However, it was a bit disappointing to discover that while the first floor had a lot of mint-related exhibits, the 2nd and 3rd floors were exclusively dedicated to Jazz and artwork exhibits. As much as I love jazz, it felt a bit off since it’s the mint, not a music hall.’s exploration, and the establishment of the New Orleans Mint in 1838.

The New Orleans Mint:

In parallel, the New Orleans Mint, operational from 1838 to 1861 and 1879 to 1909, played a pivotal role in Southern coinage. Established due to a shortage of domestically-minted coins and increased foreign coin circulation, it became a key hub for gold and silver coin production. The mint produced a variety of denominations, including silver dollars and gold coins, earning its reputation through history, the Civil War, and beyond.

Civil War Challenges and Confederate Coinage:

The onset of the Civil War saw the New Orleans Mint seized by the Confederacy, leading to the striking of Confederate coins. In 1861, the mint became a battleground for conflicting interests, producing coins for the Union, the State of Louisiana, and the Confederacy. Notably, 1861-O half dollars with unique anomalies bear witness to this turbulent period, with only a handful surviving to this day.

Recommissioning and Continued Operations:

Post-Civil War, the mint was recommissioned in 1879, contributing significantly to the minting of silver dollars mandated by the Bland–Allison Act. Although known for producing coins of mediocre quality, the New Orleans Mint operated until 1909, ultimately succumbing to the changing dynamics of minted money demand.

Transformation and Preservation:

After decommissioning, the mint’s fate varied, serving as an assay office, federal prison, Coast Guard storage, and finally, a museum. Its transformation into the Louisiana State Museum in 1981 preserved its history, showcasing its role in coin production and housing exhibitions on Mardi Gras, jazz music, and Newcomb Pottery.

Silver coins

Coin typeSeriesYears mintedImageNotes
Three-cent piecesSilver three-cent1851The “O” mint mark is to the right of the Roman numeral “III” on the reverse. This was the only year three-cent pieces were struck by a branch mint. This also marks the smallest denomination silver coin minted by any branch mint.
Half dimesSeated Liberty1838–1842, 1844, 1848–1860The 1853-1855 coins were minted in two varieties: one with arrows at the date, and one without them. The arrows indicated a slight reduction in weight.
DimesSeated Liberty1838–1843, 1845, 1849–1860, 1891The mint mark is located in the wreath. The Seated Liberty dime of 1838 is said to be the first silver coin minted in New Orleans. Arrows also appear around the date for some of the 1853 and all of the 1854-55 issues.
Barber1892–1903, 1905–1909Note the mint mark on the reverse below the wreath. The 1895-O is considered the “key” issue of the Barber dime series.
QuartersSeated Liberty1840–1844, 1847, 1849–1860, 1891Arrows appear in some of the 1853 and all of the 1854-55 issues.
Barber1892–1909Most Barber coins from New Orleans and other U.S. mints were widely circulated, which explains why this example is so worn and its details are hard to make out.
Half dollarsCapped Bust1838–39The two years that this coin was minted in New Orleans marked the first time in American numismatic history that mint marks appeared on the obverse. After 1840, mint marks would generally be found on the reverse, with the exception of the Lincoln Cents beginning in 1909, until 1968. Coins dated 1838 are exceedingly rare. Coins dated 1839 are somewhat more accessible.
Seated Liberty1840–1861Some of the 1853 issues have both arrows at the date and rays on the reverse. The 1854-55 have just arrows. Coins minted on January 25 of 1861 would be the last silver coins minted by the US Government in New Orleans until 1879. Coins minted on the 26th were silver coins minted by the State of Louisiana. Thus, the Seated Liberty Half Dollar would be the last US silver coin minted here until 1879.
Barber1892–1909The first year of issue, the 1892-O, is generally considered the “key” issue of this series, although it remains readily available in lower grades. Until the mint closed half dollars were minted most following years.
DollarsSeated Liberty1846, 1850, 1859–60
Morgan1879–1904The most common coin produced by the New Orleans Mint.

Gold coins

Coin typeSeriesYears mintedImageNotes
DollarsLiberty Head1849–1853The 1849 issues were only struck with an open wreath on the reverse.
Indian Princess1855(no image available)
Quarter eagles ($2.50)Classic head1839(no image available)
Liberty head1840, 1842–43, 1845–1847, 1850–1852, 1854, 1856–57This example shows the mint mark merging with the arrow feathers below the eagle, a common occurrence on nineteenth century U.S. coins.
Three dollarsIndian head1854(no image available)This was the only year in which three-dollar gold pieces were struck in New Orleans.
Half eagles ($5)Liberty head1840–1847, 1851, 1854–1857, 1892–1894
Indian head1909(no image available)These coins were incused when minted; that is, the die pattern was pressed into the planchet.
Eagles ($10)Liberty head1841–1860, 1879–1883, 1888, 1892–1895, 1897, 1899, 1901, 1903–04, 1906The banner above the eagle with the motto “In God We Trust” was added to $10 gold pieces in 1866. 1894 saw one of the highest mintage totals for eagles at the New Orleans Mint.
Double eagles ($20)Liberty head1850–1861, 1879The largest denomination of circulating coinage issued by the U.S. Mint.

The stories of the Dahlonega Mint and the New Orleans Mint weave a rich tapestry of American history, reflecting the nation’s economic growth, regional challenges, and contributions to numismatics. The surviving coins from these mints remain not only rare collectibles but also tangible connections to a fascinating era in American coinage.

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2 responses to “U.S. Mint New Orleans Mint.”

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  1. Ja

    Admiral Farragut seized what might have been one of the earliest, if not the very first, properties owned by the US Government during his uncontested takeover of the city.U.S. Mint, New Orleans, Louisiana, ca., 1890.

  2. Alvinblo

    The first floor mainly showcased mint-related exhibits, while the 2nd and 3rd floors were all about jazz and artwork. I’m a big jazz fan, but it felt a bit off considering it’s a mint, not a music venue. Still, it’s free to enter and street parking was only $6 for 2 hours, so it’s worth a visit. It might not be worth a special trip, though.

    If you’re in NOLA, definitely visit the National WWII Museum—it’s truly incredible! On another note, it was disappointing that the gift shop only had one mint-related item for sale among everything else they offered. Literally, just one item.


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