Dave Ginsburg submitted the following observations on the availability of U.S. Mint reports online. -EditorI write to once again sing the praises of Google Books. I've recently become interested in the post-Civil War operations of the New Orleans Mint and, since I had already found a few of the late-19th century Mint Annual Reports on Google Books, I decided to make a concerted effort to see how many I could find.
I'm very pleased to say that of the 33 mint reports issued from 1878 through 1910, I found 23 complete copies and seven partial copies! The only reports that I couldn't find at all were 1889, 1898 and 1905.
Interestingly, most of the reports were not available in "freestanding" volumes, but were part of the Annual Report of the Secretary of the Treasury, which also included copies of the annual reports of the Treasurer and Comptroller of the Currency. As a result, you get a lot of information about currency circulation, specie exports and imports and general economic conditions.
Unfortunately, the only problem with the version of the Mint Annual Report that was included in the Treasury edition is that, for the larger Mint reports, they saved a little space by excluding some of the tables at the back of the report (hence, the partial copies). Since I was primarily looking for the information that was contained in those tables, I was a little annoyed, but, still, the price was definitely right!
Fortunately, I also discovered that the Chamber of Commerce of New York published rather exhaustive annual reports around the turn of the 20th century, so I was able to find the gold deposit information I was looking for, after all.
One more nice thing about Google Books - the books are available in two forms: as .html or as .pdf files. You can search for specific words in the .html versions and you can download your very own .pdf copy (assuming you have a high-speed Internet connection and a big hard drive).
All-in-all, I estimate that I've saved about $1,000 in cash, a bookshelf's worth of space in my library and a lot of time (since it would take a while to acquire that many Mint reports).
One more thing, I also did a few quick searches outside of my parameters and found earlier and later Mint reports. Who knows how many more are waiting to be found?
The bibliophiles among us will have opinions on the pros and cons of paper vs. electronic versions, but for researchers there's little doubt that the online versions can be convenient. I have a shelf of the freestanding bound Mint reports, and I find those convenient too, even though I'm online quite a bit. The versions found within U.S. Treasury reports are more difficult to store for reference in hardcopy since they take up more room on the shelf.
While it's good to have this information online, it would be very dangerous to allow most of the paper copies to end up in landfills. My take is that each of us should keep on hand what we can in hardcopy format, and rely on the Internet to fill in the gaps.
My set's far from complete, but it does include the 1889 and 1905 reports. I'll lend these to Dave gratis for his research (with a $500 each shipping and handling fee, of course 8-) -Editor
Wayne Homren, Editor
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