Forrest Fenn's Treasure Chest is real, but it was conceived in a work of fiction. But the December 3, 2022 Holabird sale offers a true-life California Gold Rush gold chest found and recovered from a real-life shipwreck. Pictured below with the artifact are Bob Evans and Fred Holabird.
Lot 1267. Wells, Fargo & Co. Engraved
Treasure Box Lid, 1857
This is the only known piece or otherwise of an original Wells, Fargo gold treasure box from the California Gold Rush of the 1850s. With this box lid, it is very apparent that Wells, Fargo did not want anyone to mistake the ultimate destination of New York in a shipment of California gold. It is made in the same style as the Alsop & Co. and Sather & Church treasure boxes found within the S.S. Central America artifact group from the confines of the gold room. When the box was harvested, the lid was upside down and the wording on this unique and greatly historical item was not known until the first phase of artifact examination.
As part of the original artifact examination and appraisal team, I (FH), was overwhelmed by excitement when I saw a slide of this box lid. In all my years of working with California Gold Rush history (nearly 50), never had I or my colleagues, including Dr. Bob Chandler of the Wells, Fargo History Room, every heard of, seen a part of or knew what an original Wells, Fargo treasure box looked like from the California Gold Rush.
The two of us were ecstatic, and I immediately shared the photo in the first public lecture given on the artifact discovery, all of which was locked up since 1991 or 2014. When the slide of the Wells, Fargo lid was first shown that day, the entire room gasped in astonishment.
The treasure boxes subject to this artifact group, which shipped gold from the west coast to the east coast and/or foreign countries, are distinctly different than the next generation of treasure boxes, which were specifically designed for use on stagecoaches.
To bid in the sale, see:
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
S.S. CENTRAL AMERICA ARTIFACT CATALOGS
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