August 2014 Chicago ANA Lot #13295

Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
8/6/2014 4:30:00 PM8/6/2014 11:59:00 PM
  • NGC


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This visually stunning Gem boasts blazing luster and an exceptionally sharp strike on both sides. Bold yellow patination is complimented by regal amber hues haloing the design elements throughout. The fields remain vacant of any consequential blemishes, further contributing to the desirability of this Condition Census example. The gold coin issues of the Miner's Bank were all found to be lightweight at some point or another, and most were tendered to bullion dealers where they were melted and valued at some 20% back of face value. As a result, the gold Miner's Bank eagles are rarities today. To underscore their rarity, we note that NGC has registered just 15 grading events for the issue, those ranging from EF-45 to MS-65 with the preponderance of events in the AU-58 category. The present coin will be eagerly pursued by advanced private gold specialists, and the number of would-be owners will not be limited. If you're looking for a "cakewalk" here, you won't find it, so plan your bidding strategy accordingly. We are pleased to provide the following history of the Miner's bank for your historical enjoyment:Miner's Bank $10 Coins of 1849Wright & CompanyThe firm of Wright & Co., bankers and exchange brokers, was located at the corner of Washington and Kearny Streets, Portsmouth Square, San Francisco, early in September 1849. Stephen A. Wright lent his name to the business and was its leading principal. The company also comprised John Thompson, Samuel W. Haight, and James C.L. Wadsworth. Stephen Wright had arrived in California by 1847, perhaps via an overland route in 1846. He settled in Monterey, where he was a principal in Wright & Dickenson, lumber dealers. In 1847 he was owner of a land parcel in San Francisco, Lot 1 in Block 49. By early 1849 Wright was associated with John S. Owens in the dry-goods trade in San Francisco. In that year he was a member of the town council and was well known in the district.The Annals of San Francisco included this mention of the firm as part of a sketch of the city in 1849:“In another corner of the Plaza, a small building, which might have been a stable for a half dozen horses, was possessed by Wright & Co., brokers, under the name of the Miner’s Bank, for the rent of $75,000. The United States Hotel paid $36,000; a mercantile establishment, for a one-story building, of 20-feet front, paid $40,000, and $70,000 per month was paid for the Custom House.”Miner's Bank Paper MoneyEarly in 1849 the Miner’s Bank arranged with the bank note engraving firm of Danforth & Hufty, with offices in New York City and Philadelphia, to print paper money for the firm, in anticipation of issuing it in San Francisco. The $1 notes, some of which are known to have circulated in California, bore as their central motif an eagle on a shield. Presumably these were used in commerce in 1849, prior to the state legislature’s prohibition of paper money, which became effective after the constitution was approved by the electorate (on November 13). The other Miner’s Bank denominations known to exist in unissued proof sheet form included the $3, the $5, and the $10.Miner's Bank Issues CoinageOn July 2, 1849, with a stated capital of $100,000, the Miner's Bank announced the commencement of business at the corner of Washington and Kearny Streets. On August 7 the firm requested permission from the collector of the Port of San Francisco to issue $5 and $10 gold pieces for use in payment of import duties. Such coins were also to "afford a circulating medium for business purposes in this country." The collector denied the application, for reasons not known today. Miner’s Bank proceeded to issue coins, regardless of their non-acceptance at the Custom House. Coins of other firms, such as Moffat & Co. and Norris, Gregg & Norris, had no official cachet there either. The coins were stuck to order elsewhere, as Miner’s Bank had no refining and minting facilities of their own.The obverse of the Miner’s Bank $10 is rather plain and simply bears the inscription MINERS, BANK / SAN FRANCISCO with TEN. D. within. The apostrophe, which might have gone after either the R or the S, appears as a comma. The reverse displays an eagle based on the federal style with CALIFORNIA above and an arc of 13 stars completing the border. The edges were reeded. some after striking, reducing the diameter.It is believed that the $10 coins were produced in the autumn, apparently before the November 1849 reorganization was completed, for William P. Hoit, assayer of the New Orleans Mint, reported on December 13, 1849, that he had assayed a Miners’ Bank $10 nearly two months earlier, and that he had found it to be worth only $9.65.The End of Miner's BankOn October 16, 1849, the four principals of Miner’s Bank recapitalized the firm at $200,000. Whether coins were issued after that time is not known. The Alta California reported on April 11, 1850: "The issue of the Miners' Bank is a drug on the market. Brokers refuse to touch it at less than 20 percent discount.…" As a result of such reports, the Miners Bank $10 pieces no longer circulated at par, the pieces in the hands of the public went to bullion dealers at a discount and were melted. Within a few years they were rare. Some Miner's Bank $10 coins remained in circulation for a number of years thereafter, as did the pieces issued by other 1849 coiners. On January 14, 1850, the Miner's Bank dissolved and later in the decade, Stephen A. Wright relocated to Arizona. In later times several other banks had the name "Miners" as part of their title, but none are known to have been associated with Wright & Co. or its partners of 1849, despite the statements of several prominent historians to the contrary.


Lot Selection
  • Lot 13293

    Undated (1859) Pattern Liberty Double Eagle. Uniface Obverse Die Trial. Judd-A1859-10, Pollock-3232. Rarity-8. White Metal Splasher. MS-64 (PCGS).

    Current Bid: 29000.00

    Undated (1859) Pattern Liberty Double Eagle. Uniface Obverse Die Trial. Judd-A1859-10, Pollock-3232. Rarity-8. White Metal Splasher. MS-64 (PCGS).

  • Lot 13294

    1849 Massachusetts & California Co. $5 Die Trial. K-5C. Copper. Reeded Edge. EF-45 BN (NGC).

    Current Bid: 6750.00

    1849 Massachusetts & California Co. $5 Die Trial. K-5C. Copper. Reeded Edge. EF-45 BN (NGC).

  • Lot 13295

    Undated (1849) Miners' Bank $10. K-1. Rarity-6. Copper Alloy, Plain Border. MS-65 (NGC).

    Current Bid: 675000.00

    Undated (1849) Miners

  • Lot 13296

    1856 Blake & Co. $20 Die Trial. K-4. Rarity-8. Copper. Reeded Edge. EF-40 (PCGS).

    Current Bid: 87500.00

    1856 Blake & Co. $20 Die Trial. K-4. Rarity-8. Copper. Reeded Edge. EF-40 (PCGS).

  • Lot 13297

    1849 Mormon $5. K-2. Rarity-5. VF-35 (PCGS). OGH--First Generation.

    Current Bid: 26000.00

    1849 Mormon $5. K-2. Rarity-5. VF-35 (PCGS). OGH--First Generation.

  • Lot 13298

    1860 Clark, Gruber & Co. $2.50. K-1. Rarity-4. MS-62+ (NGC).

    Current Bid: 13000.00

    1860 Clark, Gruber & Co. $2.50. K-1. Rarity-4. MS-62+ (NGC).