Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 117

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Lot 1298

Kellogg & Humbert Assayers. Mold KH-03. 55.21 Oz at .835 Fine, value in 1857 $952.97. Bar #623. Listed in A California Gold Rush History in the original recovery items on page 1009. This bar was recovered with the initial gold found in 1988 from the shipwreck.

This historic gold bar, measuring 99 mm height, 44 mm wide, 24 mm thick, is from the famous treasure recovered from the 1857 shipwreck of the S.S. Central America. The total number of ingots recovered from Kellogg & Humbert is 343 of which 69 were melted for production of the $50 Kellogg Commemorative Restrikes. This ingot is from Mold KH-03 and is plated on page 432 of Q. David Bowers' A California Gold Rush History featuring the treasure from the S.S. Central America.

This hefty bar is well preserved in bright yellow gold with the usual frosty patina seen on the other SSCA bars, but lacks the deep reddish colors seen on a few bars. The reason there is so much variation in the purity of the gold recovered is it came from myriad different sources in the back hills, streams and valleys in California. Hence these bars had to be carefully assayed after the dust and grains of gold were melted to form the bars, this assaying process was accomplished by the cut corner off each bar, used to sample the exact purity of the bar and ascertain its value. After the bar was assayed, the weight, fineness and value could be determined and stamped directly onto the bar. A master ledger was kept recording the serial number, weight and purity of each bar by the assayers. Kellogg & Humbert were the most famous assayers of the day and the majority of the bars recovered from this shipwreck were cast in the Kellogg & Humbert Assay office.

The face is stamped with the weight, fineness, and face value, which are nicely centered and complete. The back side is marked a second time with the ingot's number, 623 in a different font from the front of the bar. The back features a shallow cooling depression at the center. There is one corner cut, as made for assay purposes, on the lower right corner as viewed from the inscription side.

A highly sought-after gold bar from this most famous shipwreck as the name of the assayer is prominently displayed, the patina rich and original, and the provenance well documented. These gold bars represent many individuals efforts, some toiling years in the streams and valleys of California to recover precious gold nuggets and more often than not, tiny gold dust traces, which collectively gathered up and handed to these famous assayers to become a gold bar like the present one. Fortunes gained in the West, then lost on the way to the East, therein lies the tale of the shipwreck of the S.S. Central America.

The doomed ship was blessed with the great Captain Herndon during this voyage. Herndon did all he could to save the women and children on board, despite losing two of the lifeboats (nearly impossible to launch in such stormy waters), the other lifeboats were launched and the women and children were able to escape to a passing vessle and thus survive the storm. Once the engines on the Central America lost their steam and dry coal was not available to keep them fired, the pumps that were barely keeping up with the inflow of ocean water from the storm, halted. All hands used buckets to bail out the ship but it was no use. The storm continued. Captain Herndon went down with the ship, along with many brave passengers and crew who gave their all to try to fight back against the mighty hurricane. A statue commemorating Herndon's bravery and his fortitude at saving so many women and children from certain death, is part of the Naval Academy's rite of passage for all graduates and his legendary acts to live on in the hearts of all graduates of the Naval Academy. Estimated Value $200,000 - UP

Realized $216,000

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