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Old San Francisco Mint Cornerstone

 
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 Posted 06/08/2021  1:03 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add howell1018 to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Many years ago I read an article about the construction of the Old San Francisco Mint which still stands on 5th street, though not as a mint. Within the article they said that within the cornerstone was placed some rather rare coins, and I admit that at the time I visualized an early morning visit to the mint with a sledgehammer, but cooler heads prevailed. Never read anything more about this until the May 31 issue of Coin World on page 34 paragraph 5 in which they state, "In 1870, the cornerstone was lai for the second San Francisco Mint. In it were put examples of coins of that year including an 1870-S Seated Liberty silver dollar of which only 10 are known today, and two 1870-S Indian Head $3 pieces, a coin not coined for general circulation and thus recognized as a rarity years later. Anyone know what became of these coins? Are they still in the cornerstone?
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 Posted 06/08/2021  2:05 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Conder101 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
In theory they are still in the cornerstone as as far as is known the cornerstone has never been opened. In fact it isn't even known where in the building it is located. (Cornersones are not necessarily located in the corner.) It is known that a full set of coins was struck for inclusion in the cornerstone, with most likely a few dupicats struck so they could chose the nicest one for the cornerstone in the case of those coins which had not yet been struck for circulation. That would explain the 9 known 1870 S dollars , the 1870 S three dollar (Unique outside the cornerstone), and the 1870 S half dime (unique outside the cornerstone.) The ultimate rarity would be the 1870 S quarter. We know it was struck for the cornerstone, but no other specimen is currently known to exist.
Gary Schmidt
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 Posted 06/08/2021  2:11 pm  Show Profile   Check NumisRob's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add NumisRob to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
at the time I visualized an early morning visit to the mint with a sledgehammer

Someone did exactly that in England in 1970 - a complete set of 1933-dated coins, including the ultra-rare penny, had been buried beneath the foundation stone of a church near Leeds, Yorkshire!
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 Posted 06/08/2021  5:40 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Ballyhoo to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The Mason's had a ceremony dedicating the laying of the corner stone. So the best chances of locating it's exact location may require going through their records. If that's possible outside of membership.
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 Posted 06/08/2021  7:27 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add howell1018 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Newspaper accounts of the day? Metal detector? Shouldn't those coins be in the Smithsonian, or even inside the building that houses a museum for the mint?
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 Posted 06/08/2021  8:01 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Spence to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Here is a link to a previous discussion on this subject:

http://goccf.com/t/190409

And here are a couple paragraphs of the story by van Ryzin in his 2011 NumismaticNews article:


Quote:
The May 26, 1870 issue of the San Francisco Bulletin gives an account of the laying of the cornerstone, "this a huge block of granite, in which a cavity had been drilled for the reception of the casket, a copper box 6 inches high, 8 inches wide and 16 inches long," for the new mint building.

Laying of the cornerstone began with a procession, as "members of the Masonic fraternity assembled at the Temple, on Montgomery street, and marched thence in full regalia to the spot, accompanied by the Second and Twelfth U.S. Artillery Bands. At 1:30 P.M., the procession filed down Mission street and into the inclosure, marching to its place between files of the Knights Templars with drawn swords and commanded by H.T. Graves."





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