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Blake Ingot & Co. Gold Ingot. No. 5215. This was the ...

2004 September Long Beach Signature Sale #355

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Auction Ended On: Sep 10, 2004
Item Activity: 9 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: Long Beach, CA
Impressive 19.19 Ounce Blake and Company Ingot
Blake Ingot & Co. Gold Ingot. No. 5215. This was the assaying business of Gorham Blake and his partners, including John A. Agrell and W.R. Waters, operating in Sacramento. Blake and Waters were both from Massachusetts while Agrell was from Sweden. Another Blake also operated in California. Frank W. Blake was a cousin of Gorham who operated his own assaying business in various western locations, including California, Nevada, Idaho Territory, and Arizona Territory. Gorham Blake is the party of interest, however, and he was born on May 26, 1829 in Boston. In 1851 he was appointed Superintendent of Iron Mines for the state of Vermont. He did not remain in this position for long, however, as he arrived in San Francisco on May 22, 1852.
John Agrell became a partner with Gorham Blake and the pair opened an assay office in Sacramento on November 1855. Apparently, the two had met years earlier in Boston. The partnership did not last long, for notification at the end of December of that same year announced the dissolution of the business arrangement. Blake's new partner was fellow Massachusetts native William R. Waters who joined Blake at about the same time. Waters was also associated with Josiah Howell, a jeweler in Sacramento. This ingot, as are nearly all Blake & Co. ingots surviving today, was almost certainly manufactured under the Blake and Waters partnership. Gorham Blake continued in the business of assaying and mining for many years, and he died on December 17, 1897 in Oakland.
Edgar Adams was familiar with the history of this firm when he published a treatise on territorial gold coinage in 1912: "Blake & Agnell [sic] conducted a gold-smelting and assaying plant at 52 J Street, between Second and Third Streets, Sacramento, in 1855. Later the firm was composed of Gorham Blake and W.R. Waters, and the name was changed to Blake & Co., under which title it was known from December 29, 1855, until some time in 1859, when Mr. Blake retired, and the business was continued by his partners as Waters & Co."
Only 34 Blake & Co. ingots were recovered in the treasure. Serial numbers on these ingots were all in the range of 5183 to 5280 with three exceptions. One ingot was numbered 2531 (most likely a transposition error for 5231) and two other ingots did not have serial numbers. This particular ingot is in the middle of the group when weight is considered. 17 others were lighter and 16 were heavier. Only eight of the Blake ingots had a higher gold fineness than this example. The Blake & Co. ingots were the second rarest behind Henry Hentsch with only 33 ingots of the latter party discovered.
This is an almost square-faced ingot of a modest size that is sometimes casually called a "Chunky Bar" due to its approximate size relationship to the popular candy bar. The face is inscribed in variable-size punches: BLAKE & CO. / ASSAYERS / SACRAMENTO / .866 FINE / VALUE / $343.53. On the top edge is the serial number: NO. 5215. The weight is stamped in the bottom edge: 19.19 OZ. Both side edges as well as the back are blank. This bright greenish-yellow gold ingot is cased in a privately made plastic holder. Like nearly all California gold rush era ingots in existence today, this lovely piece is pedigreed to the S.S. Central America treasure. This ingot is 42 x 52 x 17 mm., from Mold B-02, and has assay cuts and the lower left face and opposing back corner. Five different ingot molds have been identified for the Blake & Co. ingots, four of set length and width, the fifth having an adjustable length. All of these were identified by Dave Bowers in his Gold Rush History.
From the Bodie Collection of S.S. Central America Gold Ingots.(#10229) (PCGS# 10229)

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