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1849 $5 Oregon Exchange Co. Five Dollar AU50 NGC. K-1, R.6. Oregon pioneers were among the first to hear of the discovery o...

2005 St. Louis, MO (CSNS) Signature Auction #372

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Auction Ended On: May 6, 2005
Item Activity: 11 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: St. Louis, MO
Significant 1849 Oregon Exchange Co. Five Dollar AU50
1849 $5 Oregon Exchange Co. Five Dollar AU50 NGC. K-1, R.6. Oregon pioneers were among the first to hear of the discovery of large quantities of gold in California and among the first immigrants to the gold fields. By the end of 1848, fully two-thirds of Oregon's male population had departed for the gold fields. They were also among the first to find that real wealth flowed into their home territory in the form of gold dust paying for food and supplies for the miners to the south. A well-orchestrated movement for an Oregon mint was almost a success just as territorial status and a new federal administration arrived to derail the idea.
Private coinage was once again the solution, as the Oregon Exchange Company, composed of many of the same territorial politicians and merchants, sprang into being. Taking matters into their own hands, William K. Kilborn, Theophilus Magruder, James Taylor, George Abernathy, William H. Wilson, William H. Rector, John Gill Campbell, and Noyes Smith founded the Oregon Exchange Company shortly after the arrival of General Lane. They decided to produced Five and Ten Dollar gold coins with or without government approval at a two-story building at the corner of 5th and Water Streets in Oregon City. Prominently featured on the obverse of their coins was the beaver, which was to become the symbol of the industrious Oregonian. The initials for each partner were also placed on the obverse of the coins. The design is credited to John Gill Campbell, while the dies were engraved by Hamilton Campbell and William H. Rector. An ambitious quantity of 6,000 pieces were first struck of the $5 gold coins, with an error in one of the initials, and TO instead of OT for Oregon Territory. These errors were corrected on the subsequent $10 dies. Only 2,850 examples of that denomination were struck over the six-month period of operation, which ceased operations on September 1, 1849.
The "beavers" were quite popular with merchants and circulated widely. Since the coins were made of native unalloyed metal, many of the coins were actually worth more that they purported to be and were eventually melted thus accounting for their scarcity today. The present example displays balanced wear and a pleasing, natural green-gold color with tinges of reddish patina about the devices. A few small abrasions and planchet voids are most noticeable on the reverse, but none are of particular distraction. An outstanding find for the serious collector of Territorial Gold. Listed on Page 300 of the 2005 Guide Book.(#10288) (PCGS# 10288)

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