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Mintage Makes Carson City 20-Cent Piece Rare
By Paul Green

The 20-cent piece was an interesting but rather short-lived denomination. In fact, business strikes of the 20-cent piece were produced only in 1875 and 1876, and if the mintages were large there would still not be a large supply. As it worked out, the mintages were not generally large, making any 20-cent piece tough. However, some are tougher than their mintages might suggest simply because there is type demand Ė demand from those wanting a 20-cent piece from each of the three facilities that produced them, and for other combinations.

If you want a 20-cent piece from Carson City, your only real option for less than $100,000 is the 1875-CC. That is because it had a much higher mintage than the 1876-CC. It appears that the 1876-CC might have been melted and perhaps never really released.

There are no questions about the 1875- CC. It was definitely released and it had the second highest mintage of 20-cent pieces with a total of 133,290 being produced. In fact, there was probably some unspoken pressure when it came to 1875-CC production, since it had been representatives from the state of Nevada who had been champions of the idea of having a 20-cent piece.

Someone must have been enthusiastic over the idea of a 20-cent piece. In the first year, San Francisco produced over 1 million of the new denomination. Of course, that turned out to be a mistake, because San Francisco would never produce another example.

Things were a little less enthusiastic in Carson City, where the 1875-CC mintage stood at 133,290. Of course no one at the time in the Carson City area was saving many new coins, which makes the 1875-CC a pretty tough date in Mint State. It has an MS-60 price of $1,650, while an MS-65 is priced at $10,000. In fact, the price may be low. PCGS reports just under 250 examples of the 1875-CC graded in Mint State but of that total only 19 made MS-65 or better with 15 at MS-65 and 4 more at MS-66. That is not a very large supply, especially when you consider potential demand from type collectors.

In G-4 the 1875-CC is also interesting. At $335, it is more than the lower mintage dates from Philadelphia. Neither the 1875 or 1876 had a mintage of even 40,000, yet they are both lower than the 1875-CC in G-4. Itís hard to explain except to suggest there were coin collectors to save examples in the East.

Itís possible, especially with what we know of the 1876-CC and the probability that it was melted, that some examples of the 1875-CC might also have been melted. We cannot be certain, but the possibility is there.

Moreover, if you want a Carson City 20-cent piece for any reason, the 1875-CC is your only real option. The 1876-CC is too rare and that keeps demand solid for a coin that has a very suspect supply.


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