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Continental Coin
Continental Coin vintage 1 Oz silver bullion rounds

Continental Coin

Located in Van Nuys, California, Continental Coin has been in business in one form or another since 1958. It was originally called United States Silver Corporation and rebranded itself in 1978. Currently it is one of the largest Coin & Jewelry Companies on the west coast, and also one of the best gold buyers. In its current form it is primarily a coin, jewelry, fine art and collectible dealer, but also has minted private bars and rounds throughout its history.

In the late 1970's and early 1980's Continental Coin produced several silver art bars. Of note, during this time it also produced the widely known US Assay Office bars and rounds. In the late 1960s, the Defense Logistics Agency had over 165 million ounces of silver in its stockpile. The Federal Government sold much of this silver on the open market in 1980 and 1981. After the US Mint stopped using silver in circulating coinage, the US government felt compelled to sell portions of its reserves to the public in order to stabilize the high silver market partially created by the Hunt brothers hoarding large quantities of silver.

The Continental Coin Company of California purchased a great deal of this silver from the U.S. government Treasury reserves. They proceeded to mint 1oz rounds, as well as 10 Oz and 100 Oz bars in 1981. They made sure that everyone knew it was made from silver that had been stored at the San Francisco Assay Office by boldly stating MINTED FROM US STOCKPILE SILVER and Formerly Stored at US ASSAY OFFICE SAN FRANCISCO. Many people who buy these bullion products continue to think they were minted by the U.S. Mint in San Francisco for the Assay Office. The CC on the reverse stands for Continental Coin rather than Carson City, further adding to the confusion.

The obverse features an American Bald Eagle flying in front of the U.S. flag. The legend above the eagle says “One Troy Ounce 31.1 Grams” and the legend below says “.999 Fine Silver Trade Unit” with olive branches between the words around the rim. The design is reminiscent of US Mint coins, but not as detailed. The center of the reverse states “Formerly Stored at U.S. Assay Office San Francisco” with the CC logo beneath. The legend “Minted From U.S. Strategic Stockpile Silver” is around the border, and the date 1981 is flanked by 3 stars on each side.

Interestingly enough, these coins and bars have direct ties to the Manhattan Project. Marshall and Nichols (scientists working on the Manhattan Project) discovered that the electromagnetic isotope separation process would require 5,000 tons of copper, which was in desperately short supply. However, silver could be substituted, in an 11:10 ratio. On 3 August 1942, Nichols met with Under Secretary of the Treasury Daniel W. Bell and asked for the transfer of 6,000 tons of silver bullion from the West Point Depository. "Young man," Bell told him, "you may think of silver in tons but the Treasury will always think of silver in troy ounces!" Eventually, 14,700 tons were used. The 1,000-troy-ounce (31 kg) silver bars were cast into cylindrical billets and taken to Phelps Dodge in Bayway, New Jersey, where they were extruded into strips 0.625 inches (15.9 mm) thick, 3 inches (76 mm) wide and 40 feet (12 m) long. These were wound onto magnetic coils by Allis-Chalmers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After the war, all the machinery was dismantled and cleaned and the floorboards beneath the machinery were ripped up and burned to recover minute amounts of silver. In the end, only 1/3,600,000th was lost. The last silver was returned in May 1970.

In addition to the US Assay Office bars and rounds, Continental Coin issued coins for Hutt River Province under its subsidiary New Queensland Mint. Quite a few sets and several individual commemoratives were issued between the years 1989 and 1995.  They also produced silver art bars and at least one fractional round, a 1/4 Oz Y2K round in 2000.  All products made by Continental Coin were minted with .999 Fine Silver. 


Continental Coin Products

     • US Assay Office 1 Oz rounds dated 1981
     • 1 Oz Hutt River Province commemorative coins (1989-1995)
     • Y2K 1/4 Oz rounds dated 2000

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