Featured The First U.S. Gold Coins

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by johnmilton, Aug 4, 2020.

  1. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    The same reason why those who handle a lot of valuable assets have to post bonds or get insurance today. If money or valuables turn up missing, the bonds or insurance are there to make up the difference. If a mint official was careless or dishonest, they were civilly and criminally liable, but at least the bonds indemnified the depositors.

    The early mint had some gold and silver on hand to keep “the float” going. The vast majority of the gold and silver the mint handled came from the deposits that businesses and private individuals made to the mint to have those metals made into U.S. coins. If they were willing to wait a few months, the mint converted that metal into coins at no charge. If they needed the coins on short notice, there was a nominal charge, something like 5%. In same instances the mint received low purity deposits with cost a great deal to bring up to standard.

    This was why the first mint was a money loser for the early American government, which was why some people in Congress wanted to abolish it. The only way the mint really made any income or seignorage (a fancy word for the profit a mint makes on the coins it produces) was from its production of half cents and large cents.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2020
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  3. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    The mint tried to hire experienced coin makers from Europe, but all of those efforts fell through. The first mint ended up becoming an amateur operation in its early years. Cox and Voigt had experience, and they were the best the mint could get.

    It didn’t take much to end up in debtor’s prison in those days. Robert Morris, who was one of the important founding fathers, who helped to finance the Revolution, ended up there. He lost a lot of money in his speculations in western lands and couldn’t pay his bills.
  4. Michael K

    Michael K Well-Known Member

    And now billionaires like Rupert Murdoch, Bloomberg and Donald Trump built their fortunes through debt financing.
  5. Rick B

    Rick B Well-Known Member

    Followed by bankruptcy of course so they don't have to pay it back.
  6. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    And guys like the Hunt Brothers, who speculated in silver and silver futures, managed to go from billionaires to bankruptcy. They took some other people along with them.

    Leveraging you assets through debt can make you very rich or very poor, sometimes very quickly.
    David Betts likes this.
  7. SC CO

    SC CO New Member

    Thank you for the history and pictures. Its always great to be able to see the details!
  8. Mike Davis

    Mike Davis Supporter! Supporter

    Nice article and the pix just make me drool.
  9. ilmcoins

    ilmcoins Well-Known Member

    How long ago did you purchase the 1796 No Stars?
  10. David Betts

    David Betts Well-Known Member

    remember Nelson and Bunkie Hunt trying to capture the silver market? They lost billions as the reserve flooded the market! My Dad and I sold them 8 trade dollars at $14000 each were had about $1100 in each still now worth about $3000? But they still own KC NFL?
  11. Santinidollar

    Santinidollar Supporter! Supporter

    Lamar Hunt once owned the KC Chiefs. I believe he has passed.
    David Betts likes this.
  12. serdogthehound

    serdogthehound Active Member

    The Hunts are still billionaires but only William is living . I wasn’t born but that sounds like crazy times i heard we lost some great coins to the melting pots as a result :(
    David Betts likes this.
  13. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    And it was a good thing they had to. When Assayer Albion Cox died in office in 1795 they had to close up his accounts and they discovered a significant shortage which the bond then covered. So the person who put up the bond for him lost the money.

    Not really. The only real sources of "Float" they had were from the large deposits by the Bank of the United States and smaller ones from Director Rittenhouse. The mint had no funds with which to buy bullion and make coins to have on hand for immediate payment until the Act of 1837. Before that they kind of had an agreement with the Bank Of the United States to be able to use coins made from their deposits that had not been paid over to them yet, and then the depositors silver would be made into coin to replace the Bank's coins.

    The charge for immediate payment was one half of one percent of the value of the deposit.

    Yes originally the plan was for the seigniorage on the copper coins to pay the entire expenses of the mint.

    The Hunts lost because the commodities exchange changed the margin requirements. The Hunts were buying most of the silver on margin, control say 100 million dollars worth of silver by putting down 10 million dollars. Well they controlled billions of dollars worth or more. then the exchange change the margin requirement for 10% to 15%. "Dear Mr. Hunt please deposit another $250 million dollars by the close of business today or we will have to liquidate your positions." Well they may have been billionaires, but it wasn't laying around in cash. They couldn't come up with the money on that short notice so their silver positions got dumped and that caused the price to come crashing back down.
    LakeEffect likes this.
  14. Jim Dale

    Jim Dale Well-Known Member

    Whoops! You are right. It was Lawrence Welk. Give me a little leeway. I'm 72 and most of my brain cells are gone.
  15. GoldFinger1969

    GoldFinger1969 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for doing these.....they are REALLY informative.

    I also wouldn't mind personal stories of your long career with various coin types, including Saints. :D
  16. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    Within the last decade.
  17. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Well-Known Member

    No problem. I probably wouldn't have known the answer if my grandmother hadn't made me watch him on TV and then later as a teen, I met him. He was the spokesperson for Kuppenheimer suits and I worked as a salesman when he made a personal appearance. You would have thought the King of some important country was coming and then he pushed me out of the way and called me a peon. LOL
  18. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Well-Known Member

    Thanks for clarifying those questions. I appreciate your time and knowledge to educate me.
  19. Gallienus

    Gallienus Well-Known Member

    About 5 years ago I acquired my 1st ever small eagle reverse coin. This was a 1797 dollar. From long ago I, also owned 2 Hereldic Eagle reverse halves: an 1803 & 1806. I wondered why the US changed the reverse design?

    In 1797 the US was on the verge of a naval war with France as well as other global threats. I wonder if the small eagles were seen as too passive and a more martial design was the basis for the Hereldic Eagle reverses?
    DBDc80, johnmilton and David Betts like this.
  20. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    The classic claim was that newspaper writers characterized the small eagle as looking weak. That may well have been correct.

    The 1794-5 eagle was skinny and unrealistic. The 1795-8 one looked like a young eagle that was emerging into the world. That was a very accurate characterization. It was an attractive, if not wholly flattering characterization of the early United States.
    Gallienus and DBDc80 like this.
  21. Gallienus

    Gallienus Well-Known Member

    A retired friend of mine recently completed a 4 piece early type set of half eagles ranging from 1806 to ~1834. He left off the small eagle reverse $5 as in any other than damaged condition it's quite expensive.

    Also as you know during this time a lot of gold was used by the US to pay tribute to pirates in North Africa. I wonder if any the early "Turban Head" {as I think they used to be called?} gold ended up being sent thus and melted? I don't recall any of the Turban Head gold being repatriated from Tunesia in modern times so possibly not.

    I'm kinda interested in linking the history and the coinage; hence my predilection with the history of the times.
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