$20 Liberty Type II Granite Lady AU58 CAC




One hundred and thirteen years ago, San Francisco was rocked by an earthquake, the likes of which it had never seen.

At 5:12 a.m., you feel a slight tremble. You think nothing of it. Twenty seconds later, your bed starts bucking like a bronco as a noise “like the roar of 10,000 lions” booms through the air. You’re thrown to the ground. 

Dishes crash to the floor. Chunks of plaster fall from the ceiling. You choke on the dust that starts to fill the air. 

As you make your way out of your house and onto the street, you look back and see a house in ruins.

The 1906 San Francisco earthquake was one of the most significant in history. Fire melted the windows of the San Francisco Mint, but it remained mostly intact.  At the time, the mint held $300 million worth of gold—33% of our nation’s gold reserves, which was essential to backing our currency.

The superintendent of the mint and his staff were able to protect the gold and the building throughout the disaster from both fire and looting, and the mint lived to fight another day.

Founded in 1854, the mint turned Gold Rush gold into coins, producing $4,084,207 in gold pieces in its first year alone. It soon needed more space than its initial, small brick building, and in 1874 the mint moved to a grand, Greek-Revival-style building. The Granite Lady, as the building was dubbed, sat on a concrete and granite foundation designed to prevent tunneling into the mint and to withstand earthquakes. An intriguing legend has it that the cornerstone was laid during a Masonic ceremony and filled with gold coins struck at the mint.

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