Dahlonega Mint, United States
The Dahlonega Mint issued its first gold coins in 1838 with the imprint "D" on each coin. That mintmark is used today by the Denver Mint, which opened many years after the Dahlonega Mint closed. The first $5 Liberty "Half Eagles" were struck in January of 1838 in Dahlonega. Over the following 24 years, Gold Dollars, Quarter Eagles, and Half eagles were issued at the Dahlonega Mint. A small quantity of $3 gold pieces were minted in 1854.
The Mint director in Dahlonega supervised a small staff of just three men who took the raw gold from the smelting stage through to the final striking of gold coins. The raw gold was assayed, rolled into sheets, and coined into official legal tender, U.S. gold coins each bearing the official "D" mint mark. At the Dahlonega Mint, dies cracked regularly. Due to a press design flaw often only 600 pieces were coined before both halves of the dies had to be replaced.
The Dahlonega Mint was chartered by the United States Congress and erected in 1837, in the mining town of Dahlonega, Georgia, during the first North American gold rush known as the Georgia Gold Rush. The purpose of the Mint was to tap the newly discovered source of gold for coins and to provide a place of miners to have their gold assayed and sold.
The first coins produced at the mint were gold $5.00 half eagles in April 1838. The mint produced coins every year from 1838 through 1861. Denominations produced included $1.00; $2.50 (quarter eagles); $3.00 (1854 only); and $5.00 (half eagles).
The Civil War
When the American Civil War broke out in 1861, the Dahlonega Mint was seized by the Confederates. It is believed that after the Confederates took over the mint in 1861, that some gold dollars and half eagles were minted under the authority of the Confederate States Government. The exact number of 1861 D Gold dollars produced is unknown, while approximately 1597 1861 D half eagles were struck. Because of their relatively low mintage, all Dahlonega-minted gold coins are rare. It is generally accepted that Gold coins estimated to exceed $6 million were minted here.
Post Civil War
After the end of the civil was The United States Government decided against reopening the mint for its purposes. The building was unused until the founding of North Georgia College in 1873. The mint building was used as the main academic and administrative building for the college until a fire destroyed the original building in December of 1878. A new building for the college was erected on the foundations of the old mint building. This building is now named Price Memorial Hall after William P. Price the founder of the college and is still used by the college today.
Gold leaf from this area also covers the exterior of the domed roof over the rotunda of the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta. Local media often refer to the state legislature's activities as what's going on "under the gold dome". After the capitol building was gold leafed citizens of Dahlonega began a campaign to gold leaf Price Memorial Hall after the same fashion as the capitol.