Coins represent more than the accumulation of wealth. They represent history and tradition, as well as the personal recollections of individuals regarding the passage of time.
In a special ceremony on Monday, Oct. 1 at the Nevada State Museum, a commemorative silver coin was produced on historic Coin Press No. 1, symbolizing the 100th anniversary of one of the state's most enduring institutions -- the founding in 1908 at the University of Nevada of the Mackay School of Mines.
For Jim Taranik, the executive director of the Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering, the silver coin brought back a flood of memories.
"To kick off our 100th anniversary celebration in this way is very special," said Taranik, who has been associated with Mackay in one form or another for the better part of three decades. "Using the Carson City mint and the original Carson City press here in the Nevada State Museum to produce this coin really underscores a number of great partnerships our school has had over the years."
Then Taranik smiled. The allure of a shiny new coin, made possible from a generous contribution from Coeur d'Alene Mines Corporation, filled his mind with recollections of his youth.
"And, this is special to me on a personal level," he said. "As a kid who was a coin collector, I had those old Carson City dollars that were produced here. So this is a very special moment."
On hand to watch the production of the first four Mackay centennial coins was Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons, University President Milt Glick and Dennis E. Wheeler, chairman, president and CEO of Coeur.
"Perfect," said Gibbons as he watched the first coin come out of the press.
Like Taranik, the coin seemed to take on a life of its own to Gibbons, Glick and Wheeler. They spoke of what it meant to Mackay, and to them.
"Clearly, in its 100 years, the Mackay School has been a significant program for us," Glick said. "And never before has there been such a demand for our graduates from this school as there is now."
Glick noted his own familial ties to the mining industry, that 100 years ago "my grandfather was running a mining cafe in the (Nevada) city of McGill ... So (Monday's ceremony) has a special emotional tie for me."
Gibbons, a graduate of the Mackay School, noted with pride that, "One of my great honors is that I'm a graduate of the Mackay School of Mines not once, but twice (having received his undergraduate and master's degrees from Mackay)."
"I can tell you the great respect that the Mackay School of Mines has around the world," the governor said. "You say, 'I graduated from the Mackay School of Mines at the University of Nevada,' and people know of it immediately.
"It has not only statewide respect, but the respect of the world."
About 2,500 Mackay centennial coins, produced on Coin Press No. 1, which was delivered to Carson City in 1869 as part of the original Carson City mint, will be made available for purchase. The numbered coins are part of a year-long celebration and series events this spring to commemorate the 1908 founding of Mackay.