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    Rare Justh & Hunter Large-Sized, Memorable
    Gold Ingot, Nearly 15 Pounds
    Recovered From the
    S.S. Central America

    (1855-57) Large Rectangular Justh & Hunter 179-Ounce Gold Ingot. 125 mm x 51 mm x 49 mm. CAGB-314. This large, deeply patinated rectangular ingot, along with several others in this auction, was among many recovered from the doomed ship S.S. Central America, which foundered in a hurricane in 1857. From the top and reading downward, oriented horizontally: NO (number abbreviation in typical style) 4250 / (Justh & Hunter curved imprint) / 179.50 OZS. 886 FINE / $3287.57.
    Emil or Emanuel Justh, former lithographer from Hungary, arrived in San Francisco in November 1850. Although he reentered the lithographic profession for a time, by April 1854 he was assistant assayer at the newly opened San Francisco Mint. Solomon Hillen Hunter arrived in that city in March 1855, and by May of that year the pair announced a new enterprise named Justh & Hunter, assaying "Gold, Silver, and Ores of every description" according to a contemporary advertisement.
    In a stroke of complete and utter irony, Hunter made the first leg of his voyage to San Francisco aboard the S.S. George Law, the sailing ship that was later renamed the S.S. Central America. When it sank on Sept. 12, 1857, it carried to the sea floor the present example and many others marked with the Justh & Hunter imprint, as well as those of numerous other assayers.
    Justh & Hunter remained in business until 1858, opening a branch office in Marysville, California, in May 1856. Bowers notes concerning the two branches in his California Gold Rush History (page 999):

    "The 4,000 series ingots [of Justh & Hunter] have been tentatively ascribed to the San Francisco office of the firm and the 9,000 series to the Marysville facility. This assumption is based on the use of numbers on the reverse of the ingots in the 4,000 series being similar to the practice of Kellogg & Humbert in the same city (San Francisco). Unlike the situation with the two-office Harris, Marchand & Co. firm, the letter and numeral punches of Justh & Hunter were obtained from the same source and are identical in style and format (although the individual punches display some microscopic differences from use, etc.)"

    This ingot is cataloged in Bowers' A California Gold Rush History as CAGB-314, where he notes that this "very large size gold bar" is the only one known from this size mold (J&Hsf-09, 51 mm x 125 mm). Bowers also notes the two vertical lines protruding from the top part of the $. The Justh & Hunter ingots are many times rarer than the Kellogg & Humbert ingots that were the majority recovered from the Central America. Plated in the Bowers reference on page 752, this near-900 fine gold bar weighs almost 15 pounds (at 12 ounces to the troy pound) and contains nearly 160 ounces of pure gold. It will certainly form the centerpiece of a memorable and historic collection of Territorial gold.
    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: 15
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 7,957

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