Kellogg & Humbert Large Size Gold Ingot
Kellogg & Humbert MS Gold Ingot. 97.19 Ounces. CABG-724.
The treasure recovered from the S.S. Central America between
1988 and 1991 represented a monumental discovery for numismatists
and collectors. It also provided historians with an unparalleled
time capsule to improve our understanding the Gold Rush economy and
the wealth it provided a young United States.
97.19 Ounces, Ex: S.S. Central America
The discovery of gold in California in 1848 had massive economic and demographic consequences that would permanently transform this country. Aside from the enormous waves of migration that took place from east to west, the discovery of gold had a significant impact on coinage production, one reflection of the country's newfound prosperity. In fact, more gold and silver was coined between 1848 and 1853 than had been produced during the preceding 55 years.
Despite the heightened output of federal coinage and the opening of another branch mint in San Francisco in 1854, production could not keep up with commercial demand, especially out West, where paper currency was generally not accepted and large quantities of gold dust needed to be converted into usable financial instruments. Bob Evans, chief scientist and historian for the Central America recovery project, wrote in an August 2008 Numismatist article:
"The coins salvaged from the S.S. Central America offer an interesting view of monetary practices of the late 1850s, but perhaps the gold ingots tell a more unusual and important story. Business during this period often involved large monetary transactions. The coin supply could not begin to meet this demand, even after the San Francisco Mint came into being in 1854. The widespread use of assayers' ingots compensated for this shortfall."
Assayers like Kellogg & Humbert provided an invaluable service, determining the fineness of a depositor's gold dust, pouring the gold into bars, and stamping the ingots with a clear weight and value. This was the only way to regulate large commercial transactions and to ensure widespread prosperity from West to East. This is a Large Size ingot that has surfaces that appear to have been polished, like most Blake & Co. ingots. However, Blake & Co. were for the most part small ingots and the surface polishing may have been to make them more attractive as currency. Weighing in at a whopping 97.19 ounces, it is difficult to imagine similar logic applying to this bar. The top side displays all the necessary information and is laid out vertically: No 981 / K&H hallmark / 971.19 Oz / 875 FINE / $1757.96. The ingot number is reproduced on the back side in a different font. The ingot is bright yellow-gold overall with no traces of incrustation from the ship's iron hull. The ingot measures: 55 x 111 x 27 mm.
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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