Column: Millennium coin was a surprisingly popular item

I nearly caused a riot at the Nevada State Museum and I didn't even know it until I read about it in the paper the next day.

Little did I know that minting a commemorative medallion to support our millennium celebration would cause such a ruckus. The Carson City Countdown to the Millennium Committee has been working since last January to provide a millennium celebration for Carson City.

We had the brilliant idea that a coin minted at the Carson City Mint would make a nice keepsake for the millennium and help fund our events.

Last summer we held a contest for the coin designs. Carol Foldvary Anderson won the adult division for the silver coin and Kaleb Temple won the youth division for his bronze design.

There were pictures and stories in the paper. When the first coins were minted on Nevada Day, there was another story and pictures. It made a nice "photo op." It certainly was not a secret.

Imagine our surprise on the day after Thanksgiving when hundreds of people from as far away as Sacramento and the Bay Area and beyond stood in line at the museum for hours to buy a silver or bronze coin. Some thought this was the only day they could buy the coins. Some believed that this was the first time in 100 years that the Carson City coin press had been used. Others claimed that this was the first coin to bear the famous "CC" mint mark since the mint closed more than 100 years ago. The story of our coins was even carried on CNN!

This is a public relations dream and nightmare. It was great to get such nationwide attention, but not so great to upset so many locals and visitors to Carson City. So let me just set the record straight.

The commemorative coins will be minted in limited quantities until February 2001, which is the end of the Nevada Commission on Tourism's official millennium celebration.

The silver coins are actually pressed on Coin Press No. 1 in the museum. They can only be minted in limited quantities at each pressing because the press is an artifact and not meant for mass production.

Our plan is to fulfill all orders received before the February 2001 cut-off. Rest assured that the silver coins are not being minted in Japan as one frustrated customer has claimed.

Because the demand has far outweighed the supply, the best way to get a silver coin is through our Web site at or by mail order.

If you want us to send you an order form, you can call us at 687-7410 or 1-800-NEVADA-1 during regular business hours. Unfortunately, we can't process phone orders at our office. We cannot guarantee that all orders will be filled before Christmas.

Have you seen the lines at the post office? Well, we have to wait in those same lines to mail the coins. We can promise, however, that if you order a coin before February 2001, you will receive it.

As soon as we have met our mail order demand, we will try to make some silver coins available for retail sale in the State Museum gift shop, at the Children's Museum of Northern Nevada and at the Stewart Indian Museum.

The bronze coin also sold out after its first minting, but we now have more available. The bronze medallions are not pressed on the Carson City Coin Press. They are minted in Nevada City, Calif.

There are currently bronzes available in the Nevada State Museum Gift Shop and the Children's Museum gift shop. You can also order them on our Web site or by mail. Bronze medallions sell for $3.50 each, the silvers are $25. There is a shipping and handling charge added to all mail orders.

There are pictures of both medallions on our Web site. The bronzes will also be available until February 2001.

This is not the first time the coin press has been used to mint commemorative coins. The museum has been doing this periodically for several years.

It is also not the first time the "CC" mint mark has been used. The mark has been used on several commemorative medallions.

The State Museum gift shop and the Railroad Museum gift shop carry several of these. They would also make great Christmas gifts.

The millennium committee would like to thank everyone for their overwhelming interest in our commemorative medallions. They truly will make a wonderful memento that can be handed down to generations to come.

We would also like to thank the Nevada State Museum for the use of Coin Press No. 1, their hard-working staff and our minter, Don Schmidtz.

Praise must also be given to Fred and Maxine Neitz for working beyond the call of duty to learn the mail order business and process the orders for the staff at the CCCVB for answering hundreds of phone calls inquiring about the coins.

Proceeds from the coin sales will go toward the "Big Deals From Three Reels" slot machine exhibit in the Capitol Assembly Chambers as well as the other activities at our museums during the week of Dec. 27-31. Check out our Web site for the details. We will also be funding nonprofit events throughout the coming year as a continuation of our millennium celebration.

Candy Duncan is the executive director of the Carson City Convention and Visitors' Bureau.


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