Author and pioneer gold researcher Dan Owens submitted the following thoughts on a recently discovered gold bar. Is it genuine?
Recently, a gentleman posted images of a previously unknown gold bar that he had purchased from an estate auction and he was asking the members of the Collector’s Universe website forum if the bar was indeed genuine. At first glance, I thought the bar was a modern fake meant to deceive the buyer as a genuine piece of history from the Wild West.
Since there have been so many fake gold bars that have come onto the numismatic market place over the years including those allegedly from F.G. Hoard and Star Mining, the bar has been raised (pun intended) when authenticating such pieces. However, after looking at the photos of the bar, I thought it had a chance of being the real deal, or at the very least it was a well made fake when compared to the previously mentioned bars. Thus I decided to take a closer look at the history of the alleged maker of this small gold bar.
The bar in question was stamped by an assayer previously unknown to me, S. Koenigsberger. It turns out that he was listed in the 1864 San Francisco Directory as being an assayer for the Goldsmith Brothers. Since the bar was stamped with his own hallmark, S. Koenigsberger assayer, it was probably poured after his employment with the Goldsmith Brothers.
The bar was also stamped with the Office of Internal Revenue circular tax stamp which provides another clue as to the time period of the bar’s manufacture. This means if genuine, the bar was made circa the last half of 1864 to the Spring of 1868 when the tax act was repealed. Of course having a tax stamp on a bar does not mean the bar is genuine since there are known fakes bearing such a stamp.
In support of the bar’s historic authenticity, Koenigsberger was listed in Langley’s 1867 Pacific Coast Directory as S. Koenigsberger assayer Idaho City, Boise County Idaho Territory.
The local Idaho City press in May of 1867, stated that S. Koenigsberger had re-built his assaying and merchandise business at its old spot on Main Street after a fire had swept through the town. His advertisements noted that he assayed gold, silver and all kinds of mineral-ores and also gold dust that was made into ingots or bars.
Thus if this bar is genuine there is a good likelihood it was produced from gold found in the Idaho Territory or perhaps the Montana Territory circa 1866-1868. Sebastian Koenigsberger went on to spend decades in the Black Hills at Deadwood, South Dakota Territory, where he was a merchant, assessor, and / or involved in gold mining. He often traveled to Europe with his wife. He was born in Germany and I believe he passed away in South Dakota in July of 1923.
In closing, I don’t know whether or not this bar is a genuine piece of Western Americana. It may in fact very well be. I am sure that well known ingotologist Fred Holabird, will have more to say about this bar, at the August 20th meeting of the S.P.P.N at the ANA World’s Fair of Money. Author Karl Moulton will also be speaking at the meeting in part about assay bars from his upcoming book on the Franklin Hoard.
Now there's a numismatic term I hadn't heard before: ingotologist! I like it!
I will note that finding related evidence in archives doesn't prove anything. Master Mormon document counterfeiter Mark Hoffman often researched in the Mormon archives for references to the possible existence of certain documents, then manufactured corresponding specimens, When others researched the items, lo and behold - there was archival evidence to support their existence. Genuine Koenigsberger ingots may well exist somewhere, but is this one of them? It will be interesting to hear the eventual determination, if one can be made.
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