Featured Nevada State Museum Visit - Fremont, Coins and the Comstock Lode

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by CircCam, May 13, 2019.

  1. CircCam

    CircCam Victory

    Visited the Nevada State Museum today- a quality facility and well worth a visit. My favorites were the John C. Fremont and Comstock Lode exhibits... as they featured some coinage, I figured I’d share:


    John C. Fremont (1813-1890) was an American explorer, soldier, writer and politician. His explorations, botanical findings and topographical contributions in the American West had tremendous influence on US history. Maps made based on his expeditions enabled pioneers to better traverse the frontier, helped miners to locate gold regions when the California Gold Rush began, and much more. (More on him here.)


    His Colt .44 was just impressive. The “Grand Luminary” flag, made in 1856 when he ran as the first Republican candidate for President carried a star pattern that was a visual interpretation of the then national motto, E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One.) The Mountain Howitzer cannon is there to represent one abandoned by his party in the Winter of 1844 in the Sierra Nevada mountains, which treasure hunters still search for to this day. The real cannon was lugged across the country for this “peaceable” expedition as protection against hostiles (*Of note- his superiors tried to recall him to DC upon learning he brought it, but he had already left), though it is suspected that Fremont was secretly carrying out reconnaissance to aid in the eventual annexation of California from Mexico.

    Now, the coins:

    Shown and labeled here are coins that were recovered and attributed to the Second Expedition (1843-1844) whose goal was to map the second half of the Oregon Trail. I found it an interesting group, and was surprised at the number of British coppers before learning that they had stopped at British Fort Vancouver for supplies in November 1843.


    Some commemoratives were also on display, as well as an original copy of his autobiography and his sword, which were impressive:

    ADEE948F-56AE-4D6F-B08C-05208BF94F76.jpeg D21FEECC-CF5B-476B-948C-1B05F3D3AC84.jpeg

    Next, the Comstock Lode (more here) which triggered an 1859 Silver rush in then Western Utah Territory, present day Nevada. We have this lode to thank for our CC coins today, as the Carson City mint was created to facilitate minting of coinage from silver mined from it. This rush drew thousands of prospectors to the area and had a tremendous impact on Western expansion in this region.

    The coins in this section left a lot to be desired, (Some choice CC Coinage would really add a LOT to this section.) but there was still eye candy to behold in the form of a big block full of Barite Crystals:


    All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this glimpse into the history of the region. Knowing John C. Fremont and company had stopped exactly where I was today at the Springs Preserve where the museum stands added to the experience.

    Now, on to the Las Vegas Numismatic Society Coin Show this week to find some treasure myself. :)
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  3. fretboard

    fretboard Defender of Old Coinage!

    I love the Colt .44 and the cannon! The coinage is very cool too but I actually owned a Colt .44 when I was a young whipper snapper so it holds a special memory for me! :D Sounds like you had a great visit. Good for you!! :D
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  4. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    Fremont ran for president twice. The first time, in 1856, he was the first Republican presidential candidate. Like all 19th century presidential candidates, who had military records, he made that one of the centerpieces of his campaign. Here is the most attractive 1856 Fremont piece which shows the U.S. Capital in the background and Fremont in the foreground as an explorer.

    JF 1856-2 O.jpg JF 1856-2 R.jpg

    This second piece is the most explicit “issues oriented” token the Fremont campaign issued in 1856. “Free soil,” “free speech” and “free labor” were all referring to the slavery issue to one degree or another. Fremont was an abolitionist, and that position was not popular one in the South, and to a lesser extent the North.

    Fremont lost to James Buchanan who turned out to be the worst president in history according to many historians. Unfortunately events during the Civil War would prove that Fremont was probably not the best choice for president either. His somewhat brief time as military leader in Missouri was marked by corruption and mismanagement.

    Fremont made a second presidential run in 1864. His was the candidate of the Radical Republicans who were dissatisfied with Lincoln. Here is his “bragging medal” where his accomplishments are highlighted. The statement that he got the best of “Stonewall” Jackson on the battlefield was what one might call a “tall tale.”

    JF 1864-1 O.jpg JF 1864-1 R.jpg

    Fremont withdrew from the race in September before the election. He was getting heat from Republican leaders that his candidacy might split the vote and throw the election to Democrat George McClellan.
  5. CircCam

    CircCam Victory

  6. chascat

    chascat Well-Known Member

    Several years back I toured the Museum and was captivated by the complete Gold CC coinage display in very high grade...I wonder if it's still on display? Also enjoyed the Northern Nevada Coin Shop across the street...a Museum in and of itself.
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
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  7. Bert Gedin

    Bert Gedin Well-Known Member

    To CircCam. Thanks for the Nevada Museum report - Honor to Whom Honor is Due.
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  8. CircCam

    CircCam Victory

    I would have been all over both of those... I went to the one in Vegas. Here for work and not going to have the time to drive to Carson City to check that one out, but will do down the road for sure. Thanks for the heads up
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  9. chascat

    chascat Well-Known Member

    The Museum is the actual old Carson City Mint you know...The #1 steam press still operates and is run from time to time. Well worth the visit, and the Comstock Mines in Virginia City are close by.
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  10. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Numismatic jack of all trades & specialist in none Moderator

    That's cool about the British coppers.

    I looked at that picture, however, and as someone who's got more than 25 years' experience metal detecting, my immediate thought was, "No way those coppers came out of the ground, unless they have some really brilliant conservation techs."

    But then I remembered that soil conditions can be very different out West. I've seen pictures of an AU-UNC 2c piece that was dug in a Colorado ghost town (under parts of a collapsed plaster wall), which had traces of original mint red on it!

    Or perhaps they put replacement (bought) coins on display to represent the coins actually found? Maybe, but I reckon those might be the actual finds after all. Neat.
    CircCam likes this.
  11. CircCam

    CircCam Victory

    I searched every table of the bourse for a choice original draped Bust quarter in ~F12 to no avail. All were low grade and uninteresting or way out of budget, so I ended up searching for and finding some pretty toned Indians. Went home with these three and added the fourth from a dealer I met there once I got home. All in all, a good experience and solid show.

    025D1A98-2437-4FBE-A1ED-8A2FC18CD7C7.jpeg 97995E3B-4301-49A3-B21E-8ED3DA9A40B4.jpeg
    A020E1AD-A654-49E1-ADCC-0EA4FAEB7310.png 034170CB-8AF1-4016-8DEA-C67E7B2780E0.jpeg
  12. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Numismatic jack of all trades & specialist in none Moderator

    With Draped Bust coinage, finding that happy middle ground can be difficult. On the low end, the majority have issues; often extreme issues. Maybe if you're lucky, you can find an "honest wear" example in Fair to AG. Even G-VG is tough without problems. Then on the high end, who among us can afford AU-MS Draped Bust silver? Not many. Even XF is out of my league.

    The "sweet spot" for the everyman collector- those nice original F-VF coins in that happy middle ground- often get snapped up in private transactions before ever making it out onto the open market, and if they are nice enough, there they stay, often for the rest of that collector's life.

    Sure, there are some out there, but it's tough finding the right ones. I had this problem especially with the 1800-05 Draped half dime type about 17 years ago. I eventually settled for an ANACS G06 that was slightly bent but not net-graded.

    Nice colorful tribe of BN IHC!
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