Mormon Mint

Missing Territorial Gold Coins
SALT LAKE COUNTY – Between 1848 and 1860, the Mormon Church operated its own mint, which produced gold coins in values of $2.50, $5, $10, and $20 in seven designs. One source claims the mint produced “tens of thousands,” a second states the total contemporary value of the coins was “up to $1,000, 000.” Then, after 20 years in circulation, the coins “almost overnight seemingly disappeared.”
The truth is these coins are so few in number today that the price for a single coin is a small fortune. I found just two for sale on the Internet. Both were Mormon $5 gold pieces; the first was accepting bids, the second had an asking price of $47,500. For any treasure hunter finding just one of these coins would be a jackpot!
After settling in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake in 1847, the Mormons used the Barter system and paper script issued by the church in trade. But, after gold was discovered in California in 1848, the need for a medium of exchange that was accepted beyond the influence of the Mormon Church became clear.
Gold coins were first struck from gold dust brought from California by the Mormon Battalion. Later coins were produced from melted Spanish doubloons and raw gold from the Rhodes Mine. Mormon officials admit that no production records were kept, making it impossible to determine the number of coins minted or their denominations.
Adding to the rarity of these coins is the fact that Territorial gold coins were struck to alleviate critical shortages of currency in regions of the U.S. where pioneer settlers had located and almost no form of currency existed. Since most of these coins were used until worn out or lost, all Territorial gold coins today are rare. But the Mormon coins are particularly rare. Today, just 148 of them are known to exist. Explanations offered are:
Widespread melting occurred in the 19th century after the federal government outlawed privately minted money. Because of their faith in Church-minted gold, Mormon settlers cached much of these coins with the uncertainty caused by the approach of the Civil War.
Many coins were lost in public places, such as stores, saloons, stables, picnic areas and rodeo grounds.
So many of these coins were sent back east that, by 1851, Brigham Young declared that not a single gold coin could be found in Salt Lake City. Regardless of what happened to them, if you’re lucky enough to find one today I’d hang on to it very closely. With a good detector you might want to consider a trip to visit Utah. The last Mormon gold piece found was in 1909 before the advent of the metal detector.

Irons, Angie, “Millions in Mormon Gold Coins Remain Unfound,” April 1991, Lost Treasure magazine, p. 21
Thompson, George A, “Missing Gold Coins Worth Up To $6,500 Each!” May 1972, Treasure World, p. 36.


Maximizing Business Value said...

I heard F.A.R.M.S found one at the old Cove Fort. And there was an article in Gold Prospectors of America a few years back on these coins. There were several with collectors at the time.

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