Historic (1849) $16 Moffat Ingot, AU50Moffat $16 Ingot AU50 PCGS. K-3, High R.6. The study of Territorial gold coinages also includes a variety of ingots under its umbrella, both those that were used strictly as a means of transportation and those that acquired a different character, being passed as money. Prior to the discovery of the ingots lost in the sinking of the S.S. Central America, all of which were of the former "transportation" variety and too heavy for commerce, the best-known and most collectible (but still very rare!) California gold ingots were the small "monetary" ingots issued by Moffat & Co. in June and July 1849.
Three separate denominations are known for the Moffat & Co. ingots, the smaller two, the $9.43 and $14.25, being unique. The $16.00 ingots, by contrast, must have been produced in quantity; today's estimates of 15 to 20 survivors, possibly more, suggest an original output that was much higher. All survivors show evidence of handling, and thus of circulation, indicating that the pieces were used as money and suggesting why the evenly denominated $16.00 ingots prevailed over their irregular-cents counterparts.
It is also interesting to note that the June-July $16.00 ingots were produced in a denomination roughly equivalent to the Spanish-Latin American eight escudos, whereas the Moffat & Co. Territorial coins struck just months later and dated 1849 adapted American coinage devices and corresponded to American denominations, the eagle and half eagle--perhaps an insight into the evolution of California and the area's rapid four-year shift from Mexican territory to an American state.
The present honey-gold Moffat ingot, slightly trapezoidal in shape, shows light, scattered marks, both from handling and from the casting process. The front face has three horizontal bars, upper and lower bars depressed with the middle one flush with the rest of the face, reading MOFFAT & CO. / 20 3/4 CARAT / $16.00. The first line and the dollar sign on the third line are in relief, while the other characters are incuse. The back face shows a so-called "vacuum mark," artifact of the casting process, to the left, while the right side shows a thin, near-vertical abrasion that serves well as a pedigree marker. A rare and highly desirable California Gold Rush artifact that is sure to delight the winning bidder.
The cataloger extends special thanks to Denis Loring.
Ex: The Chicago Sale (RARCOA, 8/1991), lot 1097. (NGC ID# B429, PCGS# 10253)
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