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Golden display at old San Francisco Mint

Golden display at old San Francisco Mint

Feb. 25, 1976: Schoolchildren stare through plastic shield at $4.25 million display of gold bars and nuggets in San Francisco’s Old Mint.

The structure, which survived the 1906 earthquake, had become a tourists attraction since it was reopened as a museum in 1973. This photo by staff photographer John Malmin was published on Page 1 of the April 11, 1976 Los Angeles Times. Staff writer’s Daryl Lembke accompanying story began:

SAN FRANCSCO–The second-graders touring the Old Mint here were obviously impressed by the stack of 71 gold bars.

Pressing her nose against the plastic case of the exhibit, a little girl explained: “It’s a trillion zillion!”

The boy standing next to her had a word for it too, and corrected her.

“No, it’s a skillion!” he said.

Actually, the gold bullion in the exhibit is worth about $4 million at market prices, and the nuggets displayed with the bars are worth an additional $250,000.

Even richer historically is the Old Mint that houses them–a sandstone-faced brick building in which many other remnants of the Old West are displayed.

After a controversy over whether to tear it down or preserve it, the proud old building has been declared a National Historic Monument, and its restored interior is open to the public as a museum. …

The “Old Mint” was closed to visitors in 1994. In 2003, the City of San Francisco purchased the building from the federal government. Now called the San Francisco Museum at the Mint, the building was undergoing renovation, but that has been put on hold.

For more check out this SFGate story from March 21, 2015: End of the line for S.F. group trying to restore the Old Mint.

With the change in gold prices since 1976, today that display would be worth about ten times more — $42.5 million.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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