Impressive 109.55 Oz. Gold Ingot
"Very Large Size" 109.55 Oz. Kellogg & Humbert Gold
Ingot. CAGB-701. Kellogg & Humbert No. 946. The most famous
sunken ships make history twice: first when they are lost and then
when they are found. In the aftermath of September 12, 1857, when
the S.S. Central America sank in the aftermath of a
hurricane, her vast golden cargo--valued at $2 million at a time
when the price of gold was fixed at $20.67 an ounce--was also lost,
along with over 400 passengers. In the 1980s and 1990s, when other
news and disasters had eclipsed her loss, she made history again:
the search for the S.S. Central America led to her
discovery, recovery, and years of litigious buffoonery.
Kellogg & Humbert, Recovered
From the S.S. Central America
When the S.S. Central America went down in 1857, her loss shook the financial world and contributed to the Panic of 1857. When her treasure was brought back to the light, the world of numismatics faced its own upheaval: the 1857-S double eagle suddenly became the most available Type One double eagle in Mint State, and the ingots of the S.S. Central America were unlike anything collectors and scholars had ever seen. For the past decade, collectors have grappled with a transformed and tantalizing world, where territorial gold ingots can be found outside the great museum collections, and with the price of gold recently reaching record highs, interest in these hefty and historic items has intensified.
At just shy of 110 ounces, this lot is a "very large size" ingot by the standards of Q. David Bowers, as found in his great work on the shipwreck and the events leading to it, A California Gold Rush History. An excellent starter summary of the characteristics of this ingot comes from the same source:
"Serial number: 946. Kellogg & Humbert. Ounces: 109.55. Mold K&H-04. Fineness: 895. Value (1857): $2,026.81. Very large size ingot. Inscriptions on face, $ sign high and leans right. Vertically oriented. Reverse stamped with repetition of serial number, but in different font."
Several points warrant additional commentary. The broad "face" and its opposite, which shows a sizable hollow from the casting process, are the only two sides to show any stamps. The main face reads, from top to bottom, NO [line below O to indicate abbreviation] 946 / [imprint of KELLOGG & HUMBERT ASSAYERS on four lines within rectangular punch, incomplete at lower left] / 109.55 OZ [line below Z, reason as before] / 895 FINE / $2026.81. On the opposing face are the simple numerals 946, in a different font as noted by Bowers, right-side-up in the space above the casting hollow.
The qualities of the surfaces themselves also deserve certain notes. All sides are primarily bright, light yellow-gold with only one small area of encrustation noted to the left of 895 FINE on the main face. On all sides but the bottom face are a number of small pits left by air bubbles trapped during casting, as well as the scattered marks that must be expected from the ingot's tumble to the bottom of the ocean, not to mention the effort of returning it to the open air.
The bar has two corner cuts, one at the lower right of the main face and the other diagonally opposite along the back face. The back face shows considerably more texture than the rest of the ingot, not only at the casting hollow but beyond it as well. This lot comes with a decorative wood carrying case with rope handles, metal hasp, and a metal padlock with two keys. A decoration on the lid reads KELLOGG & HUMBERT / ASSAYERS / No. 108 MONTGOMERY STREET / SAN FRANCISCO.
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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