Past Exhibitions
Progress of Construction, U.S. Branch Mint. One-Story
Eadweard Muybridge (1830–1904)
Progress of Construction, U.S. Branch Mint. One-Story [Northeast Corner of Jessie Street]
1870
Albumen print
California Historical Society
U.S. Branch Mint, San Francisco, Cal.
U.S. Branch Mint, San Francisco, Cal.
c. 1900
California Historical Society, Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) Collection

PAST EXHIBITION

October 13, 2017 – March 18, 2018

IN SAN FRANCISCO

The Old United States Mint

In conjunction with our current exhibition Alexander Hamilton: Treasures from the New-York Historical Society, CHS presents an illuminating exhibition about San Francisco’s Old U.S. Mint, connecting Treasury Secretary Hamilton’s legacy to this majestic landmark building.

Hamilton is widely regarded as the father of the United States’ financial system. When our young nation emerged from the Revolutionary War, it was deeply in debt to foreign investors and its own citizens who had purchased war bonds. Hamilton was appointed the United States’ first secretary of the treasury, and the government established financial institutions, including branches of the U.S. Mint.

One of the first four branches of the U.S. Mint was constructed in San Francisco in 1854, at a small brick building on Commercial Street that was home to the San Francisco Mint and Assay Office. In its first year alone, the San Francisco branch converted approximately $4 million of miners’ gold into coins. A decade later, later, with silver from Nevada mines straining its limited capacity, plans were drawn for a larger facility.

The second San Francisco Mint opened at Fifth and Mission Streets in 1874. This facility was pivotal to the nation’s financial history from 1874 until it ceased minting functions in 1937. In a single year, 1877, it minted about $50 million of the total $83.9 million in gold and silver coins produced by the United States. In 1934, it housed one-third of the nation’s gold supply.

The grandeur and stature of the 1874 building carried a symbolic message: that the State of California, just twenty-four years old at the time, was truly part of the nation. Known today as the Old U.S. Mint, the building stands as one of the oldest intact structures in San Francisco.

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