Monday, May 19, 2008

Big Nerd in the Big Easy

Here’s a souvenir of New Orleans that not everyone would bother seeking out: A silver dollar minted in the Crescent City.

There are only a few cities in the country where it’s possible to bring home locally made money. Denver and Philadelphia are the only places where it’s easy—regular-issue coins are still minted there, so you can find souvenirs in your change. In San Francisco, you can buy a current proof set for not too much more than face value, and in West Point, you can purchase a modern commemorative coin that won’t be too expensive.

But New Orleans is harder. That mint shut down in 1909, so any coins made there are collectors’ items. Luckily, they’re not all that rare. This coin caught my eye in a shop window on Royal Street in the French Quarter. There was a whole box of them set out as bait for people like me.

There are several other cities that have extinct mints: Carson City, Nevada; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Dahlonega, Georgia. One day I will get to these places and complete my complete my compulsive coin-collecting tour of the United States.

(New Orleans mint mark is an O, found between and a little bit above the letters "D" and "O" in "Dollar.")

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