Mormon Gold: The Deseret Mint and its Mint Master John Moburn Kay
I've looked at a lot of Mormon Gold photos but never read much about it until recently.
The following photos and excerpt is fascinating to me. The quoted text below is just a short amount from the article so do click through if you're interested.
The Deseret Mint looks like the middle set of buildings below.
Read below for how gold was used as children's toys at home.
Robert L. Foster wrote:
The Pioneer Company, the first organized group of Mormons (or Latter-Day Saints) entering the Salt Lake Valley, led by the prophet Brigham Young, consisted of 143 hand-picked men, three women and two children. Leonard J. Arrington, noted Mormon historian, estimated that there was less than $1 per person in the entire company, and Brigham Young himself only had $50. That was the entire monetary supply of the Mormon Church, and money was desperately needed for trading within and outside the valley.
Brigham Young obtained a small supply of U.S. coins on a trip to the Missouri River area in 1847. Upon his return to Salt Lake City in 1848, he placed about $85 worth of those coins into circulation. A noted Mormon writer, Earl Hansen, compared releasing those coins to “spilling a cup of precious water upon the desert sands.” The relief was only temporary: the small change soon disappeared.
The Deseret Mint began operations in November 1848, with John Kay commissioned mint master. The $10 denomination was the first coin struck; only 25 were minted the first day. They sold at $10.50 each. No reason was given for the 50- cent premium; perhaps it was charged because of the coin’s novelty or to offset the cost of minting.
The Deseret Mint was commonly referred to as “the money mill.” It was a small adobe building on the north side of South Temple Street, just across the street from where the Salt Lake Temple now stands. The federal government created Utah Territory (about half the size of the state of Deseret) on September 9, 1850, but that did not mean the end of minting operations. The October 5, 1850, issue of the Deseret News reported: “We stepped into the mint the other day and saw two or three men rolling the golden bars, like wagon tires, ready for the dies. This is what makes trade brisk.” John Kay, mint master, often carried the bars of gold home for safekeeping. There, his older daughters used them for building log cabin playhouses on the hearth.
Brigham Young’s most significant need met by minting gold coins was purchase of goods from large cities in the eastern United States. He wanted to coin gold of sufficient fineness and weight to qualify as a medium of exchange. Non-Mormon traders in the Salt Lake Valley such as Thomas L. “Peg-Leg” Smith also accepted the coins as payment for their various goods.
Lithograph from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Bowery-Presidents-House-Ackerman-litho/dp/B07W8YRSSD