The Carson City Mint is perhaps best known for the large number of Morgan Silver Dollars struck there between 1878 and 1893. Often romanticized as coins of the Wild West, they have been extremely popular and sell for premiums over common-date silver dollars. There are, however, a number of issues produced at this Mint which are perhaps even more fascinating and have more in common with the Wild West than any Carson City Morgan Dollar might have. One of these is the 1870-CC Double Eagle.
The year 1870 saw the opening of the second branch Mint of the United States on the west coast. The first had been opened in 1854 in San Francisco as a direct result of the California gold rush. The second, in Carson City, Nevada, was a direct result of the discovery of the Comstock Lode in the late 1850s. Huge silver deposits were discovered which would transform Nevada into a silver state (when the first silver was discovered it was still a part of the Utah Territory). It took almost a decade of lobbying, but the residents of its capital, Carson City, saw the first coins produced with the now famous CC mintmark in 1870.
Silver, obviously, was the main focus of the Carson City mint although initial mintages were low. Gold coins, however, were also struck, and this would continue to be the case until the Mint closed for production in 1893. The largest denomination struck was the double eagle, which had been introduced after the California gold rush yielded immense amounts of gold, which needed to be struck into gold coins. The eagle, or ten dollar gold piece, was deemed too small for this purpose, and thus the double eagle was brought to life. It would be one of the prime pieces (together with the silver dollar) which the Carson City Mint would produce during its first year of production.