Harris, Marchand & Co. Gold Ingot
Harris, Marchand MS & Co. Gold Ingot, Marysville. 174.04
Ounces. CABG-137. The now well-known S.S. Central
America was the previously named S.S. George Law. In a
curious incident the year prior to the sinking of the Central
America, the George Law underwent a near-catastrophe
within sight of the Florida coast, and with the same captain,
William Herndon. A riveting, first-hand account of this near-wreck
was recounted by Peter H. Burnett, first governor of California, in
Recollections and Opinions of an Old Pioneer. In the middle
of the night, the ship ran aground on a coral reef.
Unique Marysville's Attribution
Very Large Size Ingot, 174.04 Ounces
"No one could sleep in our situation. I never saw a more solemn assemblage of people. Everyone seemed to have a clear perception of our extremely critical situation. There were no jests, no smiles, no witticisms. Those who were professors of religion seemed resigned, those who were confirmed infidels seemed indifferent, while dread sat upon the countenances of those who were halting between two opinions. We were a little world to ourselves, and our little world seemed near its end."
The ship was finally saved the next morning by the rising of the tide, but this incident was curiously not written about to any great extent. The following September, the same ship under the same captain would sink beneath the waves in a hurricane far off the coast of Cape Hatteras with the loss of hundreds of lives and an enormous wealth in gold.
Among the hundreds of gold ingots lost in the wreck of the S.S. Central America, those of Harris, Marchand & Co. were little known before the ship's salvage in the late-1980s. Altogether there were 37 Harris, Marchand ingots recovered from the S.S. Central America, but this is the only ingot from the Marysville branch office. All the others were from their main Sacramento office. There are distinct stylistic differences between this Marysville ingot and the Sacramento Harris, Marchand ingots. Almost a column and a half is taken up in Bowers' A California Gold Rush History on how this single ingot differs. For those who wish to dive deeper into the differences between these two offices of the same firm, we highly recommend reading page 996 of the Bowers reference. For a four-word summary: different offices, different punches.
This is classed as a Very Large Size Ingot, and would be unusual and highly collectible just for its layout, even if it were not unique. Because of its large size, it was possible to include all the necessary inscriptions on the top side; however, there are two columns. At the top and centered is the ingot number: No. 7095. Below and centered on the left side is the Harris, Marchand oval name punch with the coin-like hallmark below with 174.04. Oz. below the hallmark. On the right side and centered is the same curved company name with the hallmark below and below is the fineness: 942. FINE. Centered at the bottom of the top side is the ingot's 1857 value: $3389.06. The back side was given a finished appearance by tapping. This ingot has a slightly trapezoidal shape, undoubtedly done to facilitate removal from the mold. The ingot measures: 65 x 177 x 25 mm.
From The Marcello Collection, Part IV.
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
View all of [The Marcello Collection, Part IV ]
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