Lustrous AU53 1849 Oregon Exchange Five Dollar1849 $5 Oregon Exchange Co. Five Dollar AU53 NGC. K-1, R.5. The news of the discovery of gold in California reached the Oregon Territory in late July 1848. That news was confirmed in Oregon City, seat of Clackamas County, on August 9 of that year, when the brig Henry docked with gold dust, arriving from San Francisco, and by October more than two-thirds of the men in Oregon had departed to seek treasure in the gold fields of California. The Oregon Spectator, founded in 1846, one of the first newspapers west of the Mississippi River, was forced to stop publishing in 1848 "because its printer, with 3,000 officers, lawyers, physicians, farmers and mechanics were leaving for the gold fields." (Kagin, Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States.) By spring of the following year, gold dust had almost entirely replaced beaver and other fur pelts as the primary medium of exchange, although it traded at a substantial discount to silver coins (when available) and to its value at the Philadelphia Mint. Miners were losing money.
Against this backdrop, the Oregon Exchange Company was formed, with the express purpose of weighing and stamping gold. Although Oregon was officially declared a territory of the United States on March 3, 1849--rendering any plan to coin gold clearly unconstitutional--several prominent residents determined to proceed with the plan. The surnames of those residents were Kilborn, Magruder, Taylor, Abernethy, Willson, Rector, (Gill) Campbell, and Smith. Their initials K. M. T. A. W. R. G. S. appear around the rim of the five dollar gold pieces, which also picture a beaver on a log and a laurel wreath. In error, the initials T.O. (rather than O.T., for Oregon Territory) were stamped on the obverse. The five dollar contains the reverse legend OREGON EXCHANGE COMPANY around the periphery, with 130 G. / NATIVE GOLD. / 5 D. in the center. The initials of two men were omitted from the ten dollar pieces struck later, and the T.O. was corrected to O.T.
The gold coinage was unalloyed with silver or copper, and succeeded in raising the price of gold dust from $12 to $16 as the pieces circulated. Alloy was purposely omitted to ensure that the pieces would be accepted regardless of variances in the purity of gold dust, but their inherent softness caused them to suffer in contact with the harder alloyed gold coinage from California--and their higher intrinsic value caused them to soon be melted.
The fives were struck to the extent of 6,000 pieces, along with 2,850 of the tens. The present example shows light rub and strike softness on the beaver and his log, along with miscellaneous small abrasions and surface nicks characteristic of a soft, unalloyed gold. A bit of softness is also visible around the N's in OREGON and NATIVE. Much luster remains, however, and the surfaces are enormously appealing. Census: 4 in 53, 4 finer (12/07). Listed on page 364 of the 2008 Guide Book.
From The Madison Collection. (NGC ID# ANJV, PCGS# 10288)
View all of [The Madison Collection ]
Service and Handling Description: Coins & Currency (view shipping information)
Sales Tax information | NGC Coin Grading Guarantee | Terms and Conditions
Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments
Glossary of Terms
Buyer's Premium per Lot:
15% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.
Floor auctionsOpen for bidding: (View All)
Ends on 12/03/2015
Fine & Rare Wine
Ends on 12/04/2015
Jewelry & Timepieces
Ends on 12/07/2015
Ends on 12/08/2015
Ends on 12/09/2015
Ends on 12/10/2015
Ends on 12/10/2015
World & Ancient Coins
Ends on 12/11/2015
Civil War & Militaria
Ends on 12/12/2015
Arms & Armor
Ends on 12/13/2015
Comics & Comic Art
Ends on 12/13/2015
Ends on 12/18/2015
sold in the last year
- Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
- Bid online
- Free Collector newsletter
- Want List with instant e-mail notifications
- Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
Learn about consigning with us
Heritage did everything splendidly to ensure that the coins would bring the best prices possible in the public market.View More Testimonials
[ Entire Letter » ]