Justh & Hunter Gold Ingot, 185.21 Ounces
Justh & Hunter 185-Ounce Gold Ingot. Emil (or Emanuel)
Justh was a follower of Lajos Kossuth, the famous Hungarian freedom
fighter. Kossuth took advantage of the general wave of unrest that
swept across all of Europe in 1848 to further the cause of
Hungarian freedom from Austria. Unfortunately, his movement was
crushed by Russian intervention in 1849, and Kossuth fled into
exile in the United States and Great Britain. With his political
future looking bleak at home, Justh opportunely heeded the siren
song of the Gold Rush. He left his home in Verboca, Hungary and
made his way to the German port of Hamburg. From there, he boarded
ship on the Gellert and sailed directly for San Francisco on
May 18, 1850. After 159 days at sea, he arrived on November 15 of
that same year. Justh was a lithographer by profession in Hungary,
and he began his career in San Francisco as a lithographer. In
1852, he and another immigrant named F.I. Goerlitz formed a
short-lived general Ship and Customs House Broker business. This
partnership lasted less than a month, and apparently Justh then
found employment at the new Assay Office as an assayer.
Attractive Smooth Surfaces
Ex: S.S. Central America
Justh's future business partner, Solomon Hillen Hunter, arrived in San Francisco aboard the steamship Sonora on March 3, 1855. Ironically, prior to boarding this ship on the Pacific side of Panama, Hunter was a passenger on the S.S. George Law. Shortly thereafter, the George Law was renamed the S.S. Central America. So, Solomon Hunter was actually on board the famous treasure ship two years before it sank in the Atlantic with more than 80 gold ingots stamped with his name.
In 1855, Justh and Hunter formed a partnership in San Francisco to assay gold. The firm prospered and in the following year they opened a branch office in Marysville. In spite of its good reputation, the partnership only lasted a couple of years and was dissolved on July 10, 1858. Of course, by then millions of dollars in Justh and Hunter ingots, including the present specimen, as well as bars of numerous other California gold refiners lay at the bottom of the ocean, enough bullion to be a factor in the Panic of 1857.
Solomon Hunter returned to New York in 1858 and was last listed in the Baltimore City Directory in 1860. Emil Justh continued to lead a colorful life. In 1861, Justh sold his refinery to Kellogg, Hewston & Co. as he intended to go east. True to his word, Justh sailed to New York City and began a career as a stockbroker.
In 1871, Justh had a "complicated" divorce case. The 45-year old stockbroker had the following sordid account of his life included in the New York Times from October 21:
"On Wednesday last John T. Burleigh of No. 23 Dey Street, appeared before Judge Shandley, at Jefferson Market Police Court, and stated that several important letters, and a check for $30, were stolen from his safe by a private detective named A.A. Ackerman, at the instance of Emil Justh, a banker residing at No. 63 Exchange Place. Yesterday Sergt. McComb proceeded to the residence of Mr. Justh, to arrest him on the charge, but the latter refused to accompany him to the Station, and when force was used, presented a revolver at the officer's head. Patrolman Tully witnessed the occurrence, and before the weapon could be discharged wrenched it from his hand. He was then conveyed to the Station, where the letters were found in his possession. These letters, Justh alleges, afford proof of the seduction of his wife by Burleigh, and he desired to use them in proceedings for divorce now pending. Justh was discharged from custody, and Judge Shandley retained the letters in his possession for the present."
Apparently, Justh had retained the spirit of the Wild West in his Eastern life. His temerity in threatening the police with a gun could have ended badly, but the luck of the Gold Rush was still with him. Justh later moved to Paris, where he died in December 1883.
The present offering is a clean, problem-free ingot, with remarkably smooth surfaces. It measures 149 x 71 x 29 mm. The top is impressed: NO. 4146/Justh & Hunter (curved company imprint)/185.21 OZS 876 FINE/$3353.87. The inscriptions are attractively laid out in a horizontal pattern, with ample space between the lines. The weight in ounces and the fineness are logically recorded on the same line. The bottom side was unevenly inscribed with the individual ingot number, but only the 46 is visible. The back side of the ingot features a long depressed area often seen on these ingots, the result of the casting process. The depression is filled with a reddish-russet patina, most likely caused by contact with the rusting iron ribs of the ship (see A California Gold Rush History for details). The item offered here is an important memento from this historic California assayer and refiner.
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