(1849) Moffat & Co. Gold Ingot $16.00, K-3, AU58
(1849) Moffat & Co. 16 Dollar Ingot AU58 NGC. K-3, High
R.6. Among the earliest and most successful private gold
assayers and smelters during the California Gold Rush was Moffat
& Company, headed by John Little Moffat of New York State.
Moffat had previously worked in the gold fields of North Carolina
and Georgia, and he came to California well-prepared to serve the
miners who needed to have their gold dust weighed, evaluated, and
converted into bars or ingots.
Rare, High-Grade Example
Tied for Finest-Graded at Both Services
Departing from New York by ship in February 1849, Moffat brought with him three assistants, later partners in his company; along with the tools and machinery needed in order to carry out his smelting and assaying activities.
Arriving in California in June, 1849, Moffat and his three associates wasted no time in getting their new enterprise operational. They placed advertisements in two California newspapers on June 21, announcing their new smelting and assaying operation. These advertisements included endorsements from several prominent firms and individuals, including no less a personage than the Secretary of the United States Treasury, R.J. Walker.
The small rectangular gold ingots that Moffat & Company produced, including the present piece, must have been made shortly after the opening of their business. By late August, the company was engaged in the minting of gold coins, after procuring the services of George Albrecht Ferdinand Kuner, recently arrived from New York, as their chief engraver. Apparently produced in denominations ranging from $9.43 to $264, few of the ingots still exist. Probably only 15 to 20 of the $16.00 ingots survive.
This example appears to have circulated very little, as indicated by the near-Mint grade assessment by NGC. The stamp is boldly impressed and nearly centered on the small rectangular ingot. The lettering reads:
MOFFAT & Co
20 3/4 CARAT
Wispy, shallow marks are noted mainly on the blank reverse, and most are undoubtedly minor imperfections that were on the "planchet" prior to the striking process.
A rare and high-grade gold ingot, the only example graded at NGC. Two others have also been graded at AU58 by PCGS, with none finer (4/14). Listed on page 379 of the 2014 Guide Book. (NGC ID# B429, PCGS# 10253)
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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