PREV ARTICLE       NEXT ARTICLE       FULL ISSUE       PREV FULL ISSUE      

V9 2006 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE




The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 5, January 29, 2006, Article 16

OREGON PIONEER GOLD TRADES HANDS

On January 24, The Associated Press published a story
About the sale of a pioneer gold Beaver coin:

"A rare $5 Oregon gold coin minted in 1849 has fetched
$125,000 from a collector who now has a link to a time
when people in the Oregon Territory began to end a life
of bartering with gold dust, beaver pelts, wheat, salmon
and horses."

"If this coin could talk, what would it say?" said Rick
Gately, a rare-coin dealer in La Grande who made the sale
this month between the coin's owner in Rogue River and a
buyer from La Grande."

"At the time the coin was minted, the Oregon Territory's
merchants, hunters, trappers, sailors and Indian tribes
numbered about 13,000 and needed a better medium of exchange
than barter, said Donald H. Kagin of Tiburon, Calif., author
of "Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States."

So in February 1849, the territorial legislature ordered
the creation of a mint.

But the plan quickly went awry. Gen. Joseph Lane, the new
territorial governor appointed by President Polk, arrived
in Oregon City less than a month later and immediately
halted the preparations."

"But Kagin said the declaration did not stop eight "men of
affairs" from immediately forming the "Oregon Exchange
Company" and building their own private, illegal mint in
Oregon City, fashioning their equipment from wagon wheels
and scrap metal.

They began stamping out $5 Oregon Beaver coins, 6,000 in
all, using yellow metal from the California gold fields.

The $5 gold pieces were engraved on one side with a picture
of a beaver and a single initial of each of the men who
started the mint. On the opposite side were the words,
"Oregon Exchange Company" and "Native Gold."

The dies had two glaring errors. Instead of "O.T." for
Oregon Territory, the coins had the letters "T.O." for
Territory of Oregon." And a letter signifying one of the
men, John Gill Campbell, was presented as a "G" instead
of a "C."

"In their day, the coins quickly became known as "Beaver
money." At the time, $3 would buy a Navy Colt revolver
and $20 would get a frontiersman a prime piece of property
or a suit of clothes, boots, sidearm and a horse, Gately
said.

Most of the coins, though, ended up in the pockets of
the well-to-do. Gately noted that 1870s cowboys earned
only about $1 a day."

Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

Google
 
coinbooks.org Web
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization 
promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor 
at this address: whomren@coinlibrary.com

To subscribe go to: https://my.binhost.com/lists/listinfo/esylum
Copyright © 2005 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.

PREV ARTICLE       NEXT ARTICLE       FULL ISSUE       PREV FULL ISSUE      

V9 2006 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE


Copyright © 1998 - 2005 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.

NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster