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Description

Kellogg and Humbert Gold Ingot, 56.25 Ounces
Recovered from the
S.S. Central America

56.25-Ounce Kellogg and Humbert S.S. Central America Gold Ingot. CAGB-456. Serial number 552; 908 fine, stamped face value $1055.81. Pale yellow-gold surfaces are wavy with irregularities and casting bubbles. One of the more unusual ingots recovered from the S.S. Central America, at least by Kellogg and Humbert standards, thanks to several irregularities in the casting and punching. In his landmark A California Gold Rush History, Q. David Bowers notes for this ingot: "Large size ingot. Inscriptions on face. Vertically oriented. $ sign high, out of place, above the 1 and leans sharply right, giving a very distinctive appearance."
One suspects that the fineness was not expected by the assayers to be so high; even a small decrease in the fineness would have been enough to give this ingot a three-figure face value, permitting room for the dollar sign on the same line as the rest of the ingot. The corner cuts (lower right on the top face and its opposite on the bottom) said otherwise, creating the unusual arrangement of dollar sign and value.
This was not the only awkward aspect of the creation of this Kellogg and Humbert ingot, however. Bowers continues: "Part of KELLOGG & HUMBERT logotype not imprinted due to depression in surface at this point. Reverse stamped with repetition of serial number, but in different font." The point about the logotype is worth expanding upon, and it is true that a sizable depression wipes out much of the middle of "& HUMBERT ASSAYERS" and also mildly affects the 2 in the record of the ounces.
What Bowers does not mention is that the logotype was also punched multiple times, with at least four bottoms of rectangles visible at the lower left of the logotype and prominently overlapping lettering. It is easy to imagine a worker trying several times to punch the logotype into this ingot and being frustrated each time by the deep casting depression, until finally he abandoned the effort. The gold ingot would be melted down in New York; who would care that he let this stamping of the logotype go? Fate, of course, intervened, and this bar, loaded onto the S.S. Central America, lost to a hurricane, and brought back to the land more than a century later, is now an at-times-rough but thoroughly endearing and historic link back to the great challenges and golden hopes of 1850s California.

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Auction Dates
Apr-May, 2011
27th-1st
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 7
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