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Lot
8535

Huhn & Luckhardt "Base Bar." This unusual item was found ...

2004 January Long Beach Signature Sale #342

 
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Auction Ended On: Jan 31, 2004
Item Activity: 10 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Description:
Possibly Unique Huhn & Luckhardt Base Bar
Huhn & Luckhardt "Base Bar." This unusual item was found with a metal detector in Waco, Texas on the site of an old building that was being torn down. We have never seen anything quite like it, and frankly, were challenged to find out just what it is.
According to the Ninth Annual Report of the State Mineralogist for the year ending December 1, 1889, by the California State Mining Bureau, base bars "contain a large percentage of base alloys, usually comprising lead and antimony, or copper, differing in their contents in silver from one hundred to six hundred in one thousand, and often containing gold." This particular bar is primarily copper, as one can see from the deep scratch across the face. However, it is also 14% silver with just a trace of gold present. We had the bar tested at Metallurgical Engineering Services (in Richardson) and their report bears out the assay stamped on the top of the bar. They performed two Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy analyses, one of the blackened bar and the other of the scratched area. The blackened surface shows 62.39% copper, 15.08% silver, and 0.74% gold. The scratched area shows slightly different numbers with 82.13% copper (the difference being the presence of carbon, oxygen, chlorine, and iron on the blackened surface that is not found within the scratch), 15.89% silver, and 0.64% gold.
Our understanding of a base bar is it is the naturally occurring ore put into bar form for transportation purposes. In other words, it is an intermediate step between the metal as it is pulled from the mine and a finished, high fineness bar. This particular bar has the following stampings on the face: No 8824 / HUHN & LUCKHARDT / N.M.W. / SAN FRANCISCO / OZ: 25.4 / G. 007.3 F. / S. 148 F. / G. $3.81 / S. $4.86 / $8.67. Two assay chips were taken out of two of the corners of the bar.
The consignor was quite fascinated by this find and did a considerable amount of research. He discovered the N.M.W. reference in the company logo refers to Nevada Metallurgical Works, a company listed in an ad in the Salt Lake City directory in 1873 and listing C.A. Luckhardt as one of the principals. Luckhardt was also listed in a special edition of the San Francisco Call "Days of '49. The Days of '92" from January 3, 1892. He was listed as a mining engineer-chemist, born in Germany. However, no mention was made of a land swindle Luckhardt was involved in back in 1881 where he gave "worthless property an exotic stage name, added to the board some respected individuals not previously associated with mining scams, and promoted the property until it became the speculative favorite of Broadway. The price went from $1 par to over $14. They made millions at the expense of unsuspecting market players and investors." Luckhardt's name appears again in the 1903 San Francisco phone directory, listed as an assayer and located at 71 Stevenson. In that same directory, Nevada Metallurgical Works was also listed at 71 Stevenson, and both are listed with the same phone number, Main 5104.
The bar itself is blackened but not corroded. Apparently it was packed so tightly in the earth for a hundred years or so that very little oxygen was present and could not react with the surface to corrode it. There are numerous signs of handling, small nicks and bumps, but the only detracting flaw is the above-mentioned angling scratch, which was presumably done at the time it was unearthed.
It is very likely that this base bar is the only tangible remnant from this little-known California assayer.
The metallurgical reports and photocopies of the various research done by the consignor accompany the bar.(#661417) (PCGS# 661417)

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I wish to extend our appreciation to you for over $925,000.00 realized from the above subject auction. This amount realized was approximately $110,000.00 more than we anticipated.
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