United States, Twenty Dollars, 1849 (Utah-Mormon)

Not all of the California gold was turned into coins in California. Some of it went north, where it was minted into currency by the Oregon Exchange Company. And some of it went east, to Utah Territory, carried home by Mormon miners who left the cities of Sacramento and San Francisco for Salt Lake City.
On Brigham Young's orders, a mint was set up to turn the California dust into Utah coins. One of the prime movers in the new venture was a British convert named John Mobourn Kay. Kay forged the die blanks, engraved the dies, and, for good measure, helped in the selection of their designs.
The first Mormon coins, eagles, appeared in December 1848-the very first American pioneer coins struck west of the Mississippi. Other denominations were soon added. All of them, including the double eagle on display, have radical design concepts unseen before or since. The coin on display was among the first double eagles ever struck and circulated in the United States. The obverses of these coins bore the emblem of the Mormon Priesthood, a three-pointed crown above an All-Seeing eye. The reverse displayed clasped hands, joined in friendship and solidarity, the badge of a new people stressing unity and welcoming newcomers. Few of these early Utah coins have survived. Most were melted down in the early 1850s. The Smithsonian coin is one of the finest known.
Object Name
date made
Mormon Mint
Physical Description
gold (overall metal)
0 (overall die axis)
0 (overall die axis measurement)
struck (overall production method)
overall: .2 cm x 2.95 cm; 3/32 in x 1 5/32 in
place made
United States: Utah, Salt Lake City
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Armed Forces History: National Numismatic Collection
Coins, Currency and Medals
The Value of Money
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Government Transfer: US DOTT, USM
Related Publication
Glossary of Coins and Currency Terms
Publication URL
Additional Media

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