The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 25, Number 19, May 8, 2022, Article 10


Here's more information on the Civil War Money & Memorabilia Showcase at the upcoming Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists (PAN) show in Monroeville, PA, a Pittsburgh suburb. -Editor

  Civil War Showcase banner
  Inaugural Civil War Money & Memorabilia Showcase
Monroeville PA, May 19, 20 & 21, 2022

Background and Connections:
Many people know General William T. Sherman (also known as Uncle Billy) for his March to the Sea towards the end of the Civil War, but few know that he was a gold speculator and a banker before the War broke out. Fewer still know that Sherman's finance career included dealings with the San Francisco Mint in the 1850s. He also dealt with the private assayers in California who produced the phenomenal gold ingots that were routinely shipped east on paddle-wheelers such as the S.S. Central America.

To tell that tale - of how Sherman's pre-War life was impacted by the Gold Rush and the sinking of the so-called Ship of Gold – the Civil War Showcase is proud to host a special program exploring Sherman's early life in finance with a program based on the new publication:

Uncle Billy was a Banker: How William Sherman's Life was impacted by California Gold and the S.S. Central America

Two key figures will be featured in this Program: General William T. Sherman (as portrayed by Kris Gunvalsen) and Bob Evans, the principal researcher and curator of the Garden of Gold that was recovered from the SS Central America deep in the Atlantic Ocean. The discussion will be moderated by Rick Lank, author of Uncle Billy was a Banker.

SS Central America gold At left is a photo of some of the gold double-eagle coins and the massive array of gold ingots from California that went down off the North Carolina coast with the S.S. Central America in September 1857. Intended as a reserve for Wall Street Banks (which were already shaky), this loss – amounting to more than 1,600 Thousands of dollars, in Sherman's own words – created the Panic of 1857 and resulted in Sherman losing his second banking job in just two years. (The equivalent dollar amount today would be in the neighborhood of $50 million.) Sherman also had the chance to meet the captain of the Bark from Scandinavia that saved 60 lives from the Central America, shortly after the disaster.

Meet General William T. Sherman (also known as Uncle Billy)

General William T. Sherman, as portrayed by Kris Gunvalsen At right is the living history characterization of General William T. Sherman, as portrayed by Kris Gunvalsen of Ohio. As a youthful Army man in California, Sherman was in the very midst of the California Gold Rush and was posted in the tiny settlement that became the city of San Francisco nearly overnight once placer gold was discovered in the Sierra Nevada mountains. As a banker in San Francisco, Sherman once carried $40,000 in gold double-eagles from the newly opened Branch Mint in saddle bags through the town to keep his bank afloat – by calling in loans during 1855.

While in California, Sherman also had regular business dealings with the private assayers – such as Kellogg & Humbert - who produced the huge and varied gold ingots for the USA.

Meet Bob Evans, Chief Scientist and Curator of the S.S. Central America – Pivotal to the Recovery of The Garden of Gold

Bob Evans Bob Evans was there on the spot where the Ship of Gold sank off of the Carolina coast – as a matter of fact, he had pinpointed the location where the doomed ship went down. Back in Sherman's time, it was generally believed that this ship sank fairly close to Savannah, GA. Instead, it was finally found under 7,200 feet of water a couple of hundred miles off the coast of North Carolina 40+ years ago. Bob Evans was an integral part of that astounding discovery, recovery and interpretation.

Bob Evans with SS Central America gold At left, Bob Evans smiles over a portion of the gold recovered from the SS Central America in his coin curation lab. In September of 2021, Bob (along with Dwight Manley, Managing Partner of the California Gold Marketing Group) unveiled the last major stash from the ship – a fragile wooden box with some $3,000 worth of San Francisco- minted double-eagles… some in astonishing condition (MS-67).

Other non-numismatic treasures have also been recovered, including the ship's bell.

SS Central America At right is an artist's depiction of the S.S. Central America at sea. On her last journey, she sailed from Panama to Havana, Cuba and then proceeded towards New York City. She sank in heavy weather 200 miles off the coast of North Carolina; at least 425 people lost their lives in this maritime disaster.

Special One-Hour Program announced for 1pm Saturday the 21st at the Civil War Showcase, PAN Coin Show

Author and Program Organizer Rick Lank will be joining Bob Evans and Uncle Billy Sherman for a lively three-way discussion at the Civil War Showcase at 1pm on Saturday at the PAN Coin Show, located in the Monroeville Convention Center. Admission to the Coin Show and the Civil War Showcase is free, as well as the Parking. The Showcase's educational non-profit organization– called No Small Change – welcomes both Sponsors and Contributions.

  Civil War Showcase banner

The Civil War Money & Memorabilia Showcase is launched to honor the 160th Anniversary of the Civil War including how money changed the war…and how the Civil War changed our money, including lasting legacies we see today.

The Inaugural Showcase is produced for educational purposes as a collaboration between No Small Change Programs (Maryland) and PAN, Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists Foundation (both 501c3 non- profit organizations). The Showcase will include exhibits, talks, and show and tell-type presentations suitable for all ages. Topics and exhibits include minting, printing and counterfeiting matters of the Civil War.

  PAN 2022-05 show banner

For more information on the show, see:

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:

Wayne Homren, Editor

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