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    Description

    (1855-57) Kellogg & Humbert 38-Ounce Gold Ingot
    Recovered From the
    S.S. Central America

    (1855-57) Kellogg & Humbert 38-Ounce Gold Ingot. 93 mm x 44 mm x 16 mm. CAGB-528. Reading from the top downward vertically, NO (number abbreviation in typical style) 694 / KELLOGG / & / HUMBERT / ASSAYERS (rectangular imprint) / 38.67 OZ / 913 FINE / $729.83.
    The assayers Augustus Humbert and John Glover Kellogg need little introduction to aficionados of California gold. They formed their assay business in early 1855 and were among the most active and prolific issuers of coins and ingots during the middle 1850s. Of the 500-plus gold ingots recovered from the S.S. Central America, more than two-thirds of them bore the stamp of Kellogg & Humbert.
    Bowers' seminal A California Gold Rush History mentions a notice that appeared along with the "listing of prominent New York financial figures" that read as follows:

    "The undersigned, bankers and bullion dealers in the City of New York, have received large amounts of gold bars bearing the stamp of 'Kellogg and Richter' and 'Kellogg and Humbert,' of San Francisco, Cal., and cheerfully recommend their stamp for correctness, having tested their assays thoroughly, both in the American and European mints."

    The S.S. George Law, renamed the S.S. Central America in June 1857, made 44 trips back and forth from Aspinwall, on the Atlantic Ocean side of the Isthmus of Panama, to New York before she met her watery doom in that fateful hurricane in September 1857. The ingots she carried were either used as bank reserves, sold to the Mint for coinage, or shipped overseas. Many of the ingots that were exported likely ended up being coined as British sovereigns or other gold coins at one of the several far-flung mints of the British Empire; the 19th century was, of course, the height of the Empire's political and financial prominence.
    This is a bright yellow-gold piece. As with all Kellogg & Humbert ingots, the serial number is repeated on the back, on this piece after a coin turn. There are assay cuts at the bottom right and top left. A small gas bubble appears on the top side below and left of the 9, and small, linear dark inclusion, as made, appears on the back side down a bit from the 4 in the serial number. As Bowers notes in A California Gold Rush History, the 8 in the value is sharply double-punched.
    It is easy to calculate the (1850s) value of one of these gold bars fairly accurately by multiplying the weight in troy ounces (given on the bar) by the fineness stated (with a decimal point preceding, for thousandths), then by the then-current value of an ounce of pure gold, $20.67. In the case of the present bar, such a calculation gives $729.77, only a few cents' difference from the nominal value.
    From The San Patricio Collection.


    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    View all of [The San Patricio Collection ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    Jul-Aug, 2009
    31st-2nd Friday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 11
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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