Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 32

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Lot 2416

1844-C $5 Liberty. NGC graded AU-58. Well struck with much luster still evident. Only 23,631 coins minted. Pop 6; 1 in 60; 2 in 61; 1 in 62; 2 in 63. Two tiny marks on the lower jaw, with natural light to medium "old gold" patina from years of careful preservation and storage (PCGS # 8220) .

One of the significant events in the history of the Charlotte Mint occurred early on the morning of Saturday, July 27, 1844, the year this half eagle was struck. Superintendent Green W. Caldwell had been ill the Friday before and was not present when a fire was discovered. Small and contained to a single room, the fire might easily have been extinguished by the reservoir of water used to supply the boilers, but no one took the lead to do this. Nearly the entire edifice was destroyed and much of the machinery damaged. As luck would have it, the mint's bullion supply had been taken for safekeeping to the Branch Bank of the State of North Carolina, and the treasurer's account books had been spared damage.

Blame flew wildly following this costly fire, though no satisfactory explanation for its cause was ever proved. Superintendent Caldwell argued that his quarters had been robbed and that the fire was set by the thief to cover his tracks. A servant named Calvin was briefly held as the alleged thief, but he was later released.

The issue of rebuilding the mint was not a straightforward one. There had been many opponents to its creation in 1835, and the question once again became a political hot potato. The patience of the region's miners faded when no action had been taken months after the fire. A Miner's Convention was held in Charlotte on October 8, 1844 with the goal of presenting a united front for rebuilding the mint. It was not until after the general election that year, however, that the climate was finally ripe for action. After estimates for repairing the structure and machinery were prepared, more debate ensued. Payment was not authorized until March of 1845, with the construction contract awarded April 16. The appropriations bill specified that the Charlotte Mint could have just a single coining press!
Estimated Value $8,000 - 9,000.

Realized $8,050

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