September 1839 Christopher Bechtler Letter at Legend -- Wow!
This is a very rare and historically important letter written by Christopher Bechtler to the Superintendent of the Philadelphia mint from his mint in Rutherfordton, NC on September 16, 1839, regarding assaying and processing of silver ore found in mines near his locale. An active gold assayer and minter, Bechtler was reaching out to find out how the mint would process the ore. In a German-tinged flourished script, we have transcribed the letter to read:
Pardon that again I take the Liberty to address you. In the first place accept my best thanks for the favour you was so kind as to confer on me; as well on my Son last Winter when he was at Philadelphia. He regretted very much that it was out of his power to proffer those thanks personally. We have just now made a discovery of extensive silver mines, the ore is in large Quantitys & proven by a small assay to contain in gross (sp?) of crude ore 3 ½ grains of fine silver. The character of the ore on the surface is various some of it is white in appearance of soap (sp?) sugar; some is of a gray colour; and others of Brown & green colour all these ores are intertwined with christals generally called sulphurs of silver the shapes of which are cubes, octaedre (sp?) & the mode of assay was dissolving the pulverized ore in nitric acid. I precipitated with salt, as the copper did not produce any precipitate as we are not acquainted with the mode of producing the silver in a large scale we would beg you to let us know the process or recommend us to some miners who know the management of it. A large section of this country is of the same description of ore and it would give ample employment to hundreds of Companys. It will give me great pleasur to send you by first opportunity a collection of these & other ores as it would probably be of interest to you to have some in a cabinet.
Please to tender my best respects to Mr. Peale & accept the same of your humble servant.
This letter was last sold in the February 1970 Paramount Mail Bid auction, and accompanying the Bechtler letter is a note from Paramount, dated October 21, 1971, reaching out to the buyer that the Bechtler Coin Club of Rutherfordton, NC was interested in purchasing the letter. Obviously the letter was not sold, and was retained in the B. Cohen Collection.