Small North Georgia Town Home of Valuable Numismatic Gold Coins
Written by: Tony Davis
When you think of some of the more prominent U.S. mints that produced gold coins during the mid-1800's, the Philadelphia, New Orleans and San Francisco mints come to mind, but some of the most coveted gold coins from this era were actually minted in a small mining town located in North Georgia. Dahlonega, Ga., was a branch of the U.S. Mint from 1838 - 1861 and was opened in response to the Georgia Gold Rush. It's estimated that approximately 870,000 ounces of gold was mined in Georgia from 1828 through the mid 1950s. The mint closed its doors in 1861 when the Colorado and California gold rushes became wildly popular in the late 1850s to early 1860s. While a substantial amount of gold was mined in Dahlonega, the mintage of $1, $2.50, $3 and $5 gold coin pieces were relatively low, which has helped to elevate the value of these coins. Being an Atlanta-based coin dealer, we've had some experience with these coins and have also had the opportunity to visit the town of Dahlonega on a few occasions, so we thought we'd take a moment and share our experiences.
Our first exposure to Dahlonega gold coins was up in Pendergrass, Ga., where we used to sell coins at a permanent indoor flea market on the weekends during our humble beginnings. Pendergrass is only about 30 miles from Dahlonega, so as you would expect, there was a decent bit of demand and availability of these coins during those years. While we had the opportunity to pick up several Dahlonega gold coins during our Pendergrass days, all of the coins were $5 half eagles, which are in greater supply than their smaller denomination counterparts. Interestingly, many individuals who owned these coins assumed that they were minted at the Denver Mint due to their "D" mint mark. However, the Denver Mint, which also uses a "D" mintmark to identify their coins, didn't come into existence until 1863. Needless to say, they were pleasantly surprised to find that the value of their coins were in the thousands of dollars as opposed to in the hundreds of dollars!
While the opportunity to have Dahlonega issued gold coins flow through our hands was certainly exciting, and still is to this day, what may be most interesting about our time up in Pendergrass was finding out that gold mining still exists to this day. It's not uncommon for individuals to lease private property and pan for gold. While no known active gold mines still exist, people can commonly be found dredging streams up in Dahlonega in search of gold. In fact, we've even had the opportunity to purchase some raw gold that was mined in Dahlonega, which assayed out at 22 thousand! Unfortunately no one that we've spoken to has struck it rich quite yet, but hope springs eternal, and we imagine that gold panning will continue as long as there are rumors that gold still exists.
Dahlonega is known these days for its quaint, small-town atmosphere and abundant shopping and dining opportunities. The downtown area of Dahlonega is on the National Register of Historic Places and you can find many unique hotels, inns and bead-and-breakfasts to spend the night, including the Smith House, a designated Historic Hotel of America. Dahlonega to this day embraces its heritage, and throughout the city you will find a few opportunities to try your own hand at gold panning. We've given it a shot ourselves and while we didn't walk away instant millionaires, it was a fun experience and now we can say that we panned for gold at the location of the great Georgia Gold Rush!
The small town of Dahlonega is home to some of the most highly sought after numismatic gold coins in the industry. If you find yourself in possession of a gold coin with a "D" mint mark, check the date and remember that gold coins minted from 1838 - 1861 were minted at the Dahlonega Mint as opposed to the D
I live near Dahlonega.
This is a great article! One of my dreams is to own a coin from the Dahlonega mint !!! : )