Rusty Goe has been a Carson City coin fanatic for years. Now he thinks the world is catching up to him.

Dealer Revels in Popularity of Carson Mint Coins

Reno Gazette Journal

May 19, 2003

By Cory Farley

Rusty Goe has been a Carson City coin fanatic for years. Now he thinks the world is catching up to him.

Coins were stamped out in the Carson Mint for just 23 years, the veteran coin dealer said. When it shut down in 1893, many undistributed ones were melted down. Only a pocketful survive — there are, for instance, only two known Uncirculated 1873 Arrows dimes. Like all rare objects, they're worth what a collector is willing to pay at the moment. Goe, who owns one, said that's in the $150,000 range. With the matching quarter and half dollar, which he also owns, you're looking at 85 cents in change that would buy a decent house, a pickup for the driveway, a boat for the pickup and a trailer for the boat.

LOOSE CHANGE: A half dollar made in Carson City in 1873 worth $40,000 was at Southgate Coins in Reno on May 12.

Not the point, Goe said.

"I love them because of what Carson City and the mint mean to Nevada," he said. "I think it's the single most identifiable landmark in Nevada history."

What about Las Vegas? The Luxor, say, or the Paris Hotel?

"I don't even know if there would be a Las Vegas if there hadn't been a Carson City Mint."

That may sound iffy to those whose knowledge of Nevada history dates from when they unloaded the U-Haul last year. When the Mint was in operation, though, Las Vegas was barely a wide spot in a wagon trail. It didn't pass Reno in population until the 1960s.

Goe attributes the growing popularity of Carson coins to several factors, including the romance of the West, the Mint's importance in a new state and their link to a period that's legendary in our history. The dealer, who describes himself as "obsessed" with the "CC" mintmark, has written a book on the subject. An Enthusiast's Guide To A Complete Set of Carson City Coins will be published next fall.

Over the past two years, Goe said, he's bought many high-grade examples of "CC" coins, and at a New York auction in October barely missed scoring the finest known 1870-CC half dollar. It went to another bidder for $161,000 (the coins aren't kept in his South Virginia Street shop, but in a vault at a location he wouldn't divulge).

Over the years, Goe said, he's owned examples of every coin produced at the Carson Mint except the 1873-CC No Arrows dime. Of acquiring that, he said, "If the time is right, I'd sure like to. It would be a great honor."

Just one collector, Louis E. Eliasberg, is known to have owned a complete set of "CC" mintage, comprising 111 coins in 10 denominations, seven in silver and three in gold. The 1873-CC No Arrows dime is the most significant, having sold for $632,500 in 1999.

The most intriguing, though, may be the "fifth dollar" 20-cent piece from 1876. About 10,000 were minted. All but about 20 were melted down, and only 18 are known to survive. Recent sales have brought about $150,000.

A historic collection of CC coins is on permanent display at the Nevada State Museum in Carson City, the site of the old mint. Assembled by the "Duke of Nevada," Norman Biltz, in the 1950s and '60s, it was donated to the museum by Wells Fargo Bank in 1999. Though it lacks two coins, the 109-piece collection is valued at more than $600,000.

Information about Carson City coins or Goe's book is available at Southgate Coins, 5032 S. Virginia St.; call 322-4455.