Home U.S. Coin Forum

UPDATE * Early Carolina gold sample. Letter mentioning 28 pound nugget added to first post.

RogerBRogerB Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited October 12, 2018 11:41AM in U.S. Coin Forum

The following describes assay by the Mint of a sample of Carolina gold. The letter also notes that a large lump of gold had been melted although the director noted, "...from Mr. Reed’s letter to me, I supposed that he would have sent it to the Mint." Could this be the large gold chunk so often referred to in relation to North Carolina gold mining? (It is claimed that an 50 pound nugget was found near the Reed Mine in Cabarras County, North Carolina,)


Mint of the United States
February 14, 1804

Dr. William Eustis
A soon as I received you favor of the 8th instance, I directed the proper assay to be made of the gold enclosed. It was undoubtedly in a state of nature and had never passed through the fire. I had formerly received and assayed several pieces from North Carolina, and one from Virginia, much of the same kind.

The assayer’s report of the piece enclosed in your letter, which he has just made, is as follows:

“The sample of gold sent by Dr. Eustis, had not only more dirt adhering to it, but is inferior in quality to either of the former samples received from North Carolina. It lost about 6 percent in melting, after being cleaned and assayed, it proved to be better than standard; one ounce of it being equal to one ounce and twelve grains of standard gold.”

It is therefore worth about eighteen dollars, 22/100 [$18.22] per ounce.

I am sorry to find by your letter that the large lump that was found in North Carolina, has been melted up, as I am sure that 15 percent loss is far beyond what ought to have been expected, and from Mr. Reed’s letter to me, I supposed that he would have sent it to the Mint.

I have the honor to be, etc., etc.
Elias Boudinot,
Director of the Mint

[RG104 Entry 3 1796-1804]

Here is a somewhat earlier letter that refers to a previous sample of North Carolina gold, and also mentions a large nugget recently found.

Cabarrus Court House

November 23, 1803

Director of Public Mint

Honored Sir,
Enclosed you find a simple of metal of which we find considerable quantity.

I will thank you to try it, and inform me as soon as possible what you will give in coined gold per ounce; or what you have for coining. We sent you a small piece some time ago and your answer which said it was worth 18-1/2 $ per ounce, whether you will give that or not you did not say. Since the reception of your letter there was one piece found which weight 28 lb. There are found from 20 dwt to 130 [dwt] per day.

Please state in your answer whether you would detain [see note – Ed.] a person who might take to Washington 30 or 50 lbs of it any time; or change Eagles directly for it.

I am respectfully,
Your humble servant
Richard Brandon
Navy agent

[Ed. – “Detain” is used in the sense of “delay” such as until the gold was coined, or of it could be immediately exchanged for Eagles.]


  • SmudgeSmudge Posts: 8,946 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks for the interesting post.

  • topstuftopstuf Posts: 14,803 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Apparently, the refining process in 1804 required using the assayer's pocket. :o:D

  • Timbuk3Timbuk3 Posts: 11,658 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Wow, interesting, thanks for sharing !!! :)

  • divecchiadivecchia Posts: 6,418 ✭✭✭✭✭

    As always, a very interesting post.

    Thanks for sharing it. Donato

    Hobbyist & Collector (not an investor).
    Donato's Complete US Type Set ---- Donato's Dansco 7070 Modified Type Set ---- Donato's Basic U.S. Coin Design Set

    Successful transactions: Shrub68 (Jim), MWallace (Mike)
  • RegulatedRegulated Posts: 2,983 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The nugget in question was allegedly discovered by 12-year old Conrad Reed in 1799, weighed 17 pounds, and was sold for $3.50 in 1802 after being used as a door stop. After discovering that the door stop had netted its buyer a $3,496.50 profit, Reed's father began prospecting around Little Meadow Creek.

    It would appear that they're talking about the same hunk of metal...

    David McCarthy - Kagin's - IG: X_COINNERD_X

    What is now proved was once only imagined. - William Blake
  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 12, 2018 11:00AM

    Maybe the letter from Reed to will show up someday....could be dated Nov, Dec 1803 or Jan 1804 ?

  • RegulatedRegulated Posts: 2,983 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'd guess 1803 - I wasn't able to run down the exact date that he sold his doorstop - what I found merely said that he'd used it as a doorstop for three years before selling it.

    David McCarthy - Kagin's - IG: X_COINNERD_X

    What is now proved was once only imagined. - William Blake
  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks for the letter Roger.... Imagine having a 17 pound nugget as a door stop for years...seems someone would have questioned it during that time. Which reminds me, I better go check my doorstops... :D Cheers, RickO

  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭✭✭

    A 28 pound nugget as mentioned in the second letter is certainly respectable size. I wonder how frequently these were encountered? Was the 17 pound nugget Regulated refers to simply part of the gold discovery story, or was it really unusual?

  • RegulatedRegulated Posts: 2,983 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It certainly would have been unusual in California.

    David McCarthy - Kagin's - IG: X_COINNERD_X

    What is now proved was once only imagined. - William Blake

Leave a Comment

BoldItalicStrikethroughOrdered listUnordered list
Align leftAlign centerAlign rightToggle HTML viewToggle full pageToggle lights
Drop image/file