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Unique Gertie O. Rugg Silver Presentation Ingot--Possibly the Only Ingot Known Today From the Belcher Mine

Gertie O. Rugg 1876 Presentation Silver Ingot from the Belcher Mine, Virginia City, Nevada. Gertie Rugg was the daughter of Belcher Mine Chief Engineer J. Rugg, who had this ingot engraved with her name and date for a special occasion in 1876. The Belcher was part of the Crown Point - Belcher Bonanza discovered in 1873 and reported by John P. Jones, then superintendent of the mine. The high grade ore body was 600 feet deep, 775 feet long, and 120 feet wide at its largest point. It stretched from the 900 to the 1500 foot level. Over an eight-year period, from 1870-1878, the Belcher produced 684,000 tons yielding $32.1 million, and paid just under $15 million in dividends. The ore mined averaged $47 per ton recovered, or the equivalent of about 2.5 ounces per ton of gold (or 1 oz/t gold and 27 oz/t silver--both are about the same. Either way, it's bonanza ore-Fred Holabird).
Rugg was hired during and for the production of the great Crown Point - Belcher bonanza, perhaps about 1873 or 1874. As Chief Engineer, he helped design and engineer mining of the large stopes cut through the ore body. He is listed in Bethel's 1875 (Northern Nevada) Directory, along with his brother (?) U. J. Rugg, who also worked for the Belcher as a fireman.
In 1876 ore began to run out, and that year was the last year a dividend was paid to shareholders. Rugg and other engineers were let go as revenue decreased. He moved to San Francisco, where he took up residence for just a year, before finding another job and moving on. San Francisco was the western mining center and made a logical choice for Rugg to look for a senior mining position. During his brief residency in San Francisco of less than one year, he was listed in the San Francisco Directory as a "miner."
Rugg gave this ingot, with its fancy engraved cover with a glass window showing the beautiful color and patterns, to his daughter at Christmas in 1876. It is perhaps the only such presentation ingot known today. It may also be the only known ingot from the famous Belcher Mine. Though there is no engraving on the ingot to indicate the Belcher as the origin of the ingot, it is intuitive since Mr. Rugg was the Chief Engineer for the mine the year this ingot was given to his daughter.
The ingot is engraved on five of the six sides. The top side, as already discussed, has a glass enclosure with bright silver evident beneath. Ornate leaf-work surrounds the oval enclosure. The sides read: PRESENTED TO / MISS GERTIE O. RUGG / BY HER FRIENDS / MAY 25th 1876. Lightly toned.
From The Alan Bingel Collection. (NGC ID# ANJT, PCGS# 10360)

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Auction Dates
July, 2005
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 10
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