1855 KELLOGG & COMPANY $50 RESTRIKE - RECOVERED S.S. CENTRAL AMERICA GOLD BARS
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In an unprecedented first for numismatics, authentic California Gold Rush era ingots recovered from the fabled S.S. Central America and the original pair of assayers' dies will be used to strike special commemorative gold pieces of the famous 1855 Kellogg & Company $50 round 'slug.'
The cameo proof and uncirculated restrikes were produced by the California Historical Society in San Francisco. Each coin will contain 2.5 ounces of pure Gold Rush era gold from renowned Kellogg & Humbert ingots.
'The $50 slug is the "King of Territorial Gold." These restrikes are a way for collectors to own a piece of Gold Rush history at a fraction of the cost of the unique ingots from the Central America.
Known today as 'the Ship of Gold,' the Central America sank in a hurricane in 1857 while carrying several tons of California gold from Panama to New York City. The historic coins and gold bars were discovered in the late 1980s and purchased by Manley's group in December 1999 in the world's largest numismatic transaction.
More than 7,000 recovered coins and hundreds of ingots were quickly sold after entering the marketplace in phases starting in February 2000. Less than 500 coins and 100 ingots remain.
'Due to the limited supply of authentic ingots, a maximum of only 5,000 authorized restrikes can be made. Each will be housed in a custom-made, hand-hammered copper frame reminiscent of the 1915 holders for commemorative gold coins of San Francisco's Panama-Pacific International Exposition,’.
A certificate of authenticity from the California Historical Society will accompany each restrike. The project is expected to raise up to a quarter-million dollars for the nonprofit California Historical Society.
'These magnificent coins, made using the original tools and gold from this important era of our country, will let people literally hold the Gold Rush in their hands,' said Stephen Becker, Executive Director of the
California Historical Society. "We're thrilled to help history come alive by bringing this project to San Francisco."
'It's really amazing that this gold and these dies have survived to the present day. It's a tremendous historical coincidence,' said Bob Evans, curator of the treasure and the chief scientist and historian on the 1980s mission that found and recovered the gold.
The working transfer dies were crafted from original Kellogg dies previously owned by territorial gold specialist and author, Donald Kagin of Tiburon, California. The dies were not aboard the Central America. (Not made of gold, the metal dies would have been destroyed if they had been on the ocean floor for more than 130 years with the treasure.)
'Outside of a museum, these are the only known surviving dies from a private assayer of that era. The dies still contained some gold flakes from 1855,' Kagin explained.
'When the Kellogg and Humbert ingots first became available on the market, I thought it would be a great idea to produce restrikes from the original gold. The historical importance of this can not be overstated,' he said.
The recovered ship's cargo contained 330 Kellogg & Humbert ingots. About 60 of them, each weighing roughly 200 to 500 ounces, have been used to produce the planchets for the gold commemoratives.
The current market value of the melted ingots ranged from $200,000 to nearly $1 million. Evans emphasized that steps were taken to save identifiable portions of each bar.
'We wanted to preserve the ingots' historical assayers' marks for posterity. The faces of the bars were carefully cut and milled to permanently retain a layer of gold that contains the fundamental information,
such as the ingot's weight and fineness, as well as the Kellogg & Humbert imprint,' explained Evans.
Production of the restrikes involved months of planning to find a suitable site in San Francisco. The California Historical Society could not physically host the coin striking because of the size and weight of the coining press, 16,000 pounds.
The press originally was used at the San Francisco Mint between 1973 and 1998.
'This is nice for someone to be able to afford a piece of those ingots. The gold was supposed to be made into coins in 1857, so it's finally fulfilling its destiny. It is a terrific idea to produce a collectible like this,’.