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Bechtler Gold from the National Numismatic Collection

CoinosaurusCoinosaurus Posts: 9,614 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited September 18, 2017 11:57AM in U.S. Coin Forum

The Bechtlers privately produced gold coins in North Carolina from 1831-1852. Posted here is an undated $5 from the Smithsonian, which has a substantial collection (photography by AirplaneNut). Check out the Smithsonian Bechtlers on the Newman Portal at:

https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/imagecollection/510000

Comments

  • panexpoguypanexpoguy Posts: 1,239 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Beautiful.

  • ColonelJessupColonelJessup Posts: 6,442 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 18, 2017 9:38AM

    The NNP is making me very happy. :) Keep pumping it !!!!!
    How did @AirplaneNut get involved in imaging work with the Smithsonian?
    Being from NNJ, that's a local-boy-makes-good story Parsippany attendees would like to hear.

    "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." - Geo. Orwell
  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,534 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Nice!

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
  • jonrunsjonruns Posts: 1,196 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I love the story of the Bechtler mint...FYI it closed in 1849 not 1852 as in the OP...but their coinage business really faded after the death of father Christopher in 1843 (his death probably from mercury poisoning as liquid mercury was used in the refining of gold)

    "In their most active period, from August 1836 to May 1838, the Bechtlers minted approximately $770,239.50 in gold coins. That sum was astronomical for the period. By contrast, North Carolina’s recorded revenue for 1835 was a mere $71,740. As might be expected, the Bechtler Mint’s impact on the region’s economy was remarkable."

    The establishment of the Charlotte and Dahlonega mints in 1838 put a damper on the need for privately-minted gold coins...

    I highly recommend the one hour video "Gold Fever and the Bechtler Mint" which was produced a few years ago by a local NC public TV station and can be watched on Hulu...

    • Jon
  • YorkshiremanYorkshireman Posts: 4,494 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Nice looking coins.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Yorkshireman,Obsessed collector of round, metallic pieces of history.Hunting for Latin American colonial portraits plus cool US & British coins.
  • stevebensteveben Posts: 4,595 ✭✭✭✭✭

    awesome collection of bechtler gold! i understand it's impossible to complete a set with an example of everything they minted.

  • johnny9434johnny9434 Posts: 27,480 ✭✭✭✭✭

    thats wicked nice :)

  • jwittenjwitten Posts: 5,075 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I've always wondered how (why) so many of those toned so nicely!

  • CoinosaurusCoinosaurus Posts: 9,614 ✭✭✭✭✭

    BillJones probably knows. I suspect the refining was not terribly consistent, meaning you might get a richer variety of trace metals in the privately struck coins.

  • MrEurekaMrEureka Posts: 23,930 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Coinosaurus said:
    BillJones probably knows. I suspect the refining was not terribly consistent, meaning you might get a richer variety of trace metals in the privately struck coins.

    Probably true to some extent, although I suspect a bigger factor is the way the coins were stored. I say that because, first, many of the coins in the Kagin-Clifford collection of Pioneer Gold toned in a similar fashion while sitting for many years on display in a partially sunlit room at the SF Mint. Not just the Bechtlers, but lots of other things. And second, I see that a fair number of the Smithsonian coins came from the Chase Money Museum, which (I suspect) may have displayed their coins in a similar manner.

    Someone with more time on their hands might want to see if there's a correlation between the toning and the Chase provenance. And it would also be interesting to hear from anyone who remembers how Chase displayed their coins.

    Andy Lustig

    Doggedly collecting coins of the Central American Republic.

    Visit the Society of US Pattern Collectors at USPatterns.com.
  • stevebensteveben Posts: 4,595 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 18, 2017 2:24PM

    @MrEureka said:

    @Coinosaurus said:
    BillJones probably knows. I suspect the refining was not terribly consistent, meaning you might get a richer variety of trace metals in the privately struck coins.

    Probably true to some extent, although I suspect a bigger factor is the way the coins were stored.

    i think they are both factors. i have a newman bechtler piece that is similarly toned...and was kept in a small felt lined coin box.

  • CharlotteDudeCharlotteDude Posts: 2,885 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Great looking coins...

    'dude

    Got Crust....y gold?
  • jonrunsjonruns Posts: 1,196 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'd guess that the toning of the Bechtler coins comes from having different metals in the alloy.

    U.S. Mint gold is 90% gold and 10% copper.

    The Bechtlers were jewelers...and depending upon the issue their coins have different percentages of gold...and they most likely used alloys other than copper.

    My example below is 21 carats which means it is 87.5% gold and 12.5% something else (21/24 = .875). "24 karat gold contains 24 parts pure gold. 22 karat gold contains 22 parts gold and 2 parts of other metals added as alloy. 21 karat gold contains 21 parts gold with three parts of other metals added."

    A jeweler would probably use silver, zinc, nickel as alloys which might have created the special toning of these coins...

  • RegulatedRegulated Posts: 2,992 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Probably true to some extent, although I suspect a bigger factor is the way the coins were stored. I say that because, first, many of the coins in the Kagin-Clifford collection of Pioneer Gold toned in a similar fashion while sitting for many years on display in a partially sunlit room at the SF Mint. Not just the Bechtlers, but lots of other things. And second, I see that a fair number of the Smithsonian coins came from the Chase Money Museum, which (I suspect) may have displayed their coins in a similar manner.

    Someone with more time on their hands might want to see if there's a correlation between the toning and the Chase provenance. And it would also be interesting to hear from anyone who remembers how Chase displayed their coins.

    The toning is the result of the high silver content in the coins, not storage. We're all used to seeing gold that is alloyed with copper.


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

    Nice old gold and a significant part of our coinage history.... Thanks for the link...Cheers, RickO

  • MrEurekaMrEureka Posts: 23,930 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Regulated said:

    Probably true to some extent, although I suspect a bigger factor is the way the coins were stored. I say that because, first, many of the coins in the Kagin-Clifford collection of Pioneer Gold toned in a similar fashion while sitting for many years on display in a partially sunlit room at the SF Mint. Not just the Bechtlers, but lots of other things. And second, I see that a fair number of the Smithsonian coins came from the Chase Money Museum, which (I suspect) may have displayed their coins in a similar manner.

    Someone with more time on their hands might want to see if there's a correlation between the toning and the Chase provenance. And it would also be interesting to hear from anyone who remembers how Chase displayed their coins.

    The toning is the result of the high silver content in the coins, not storage. We're all used to seeing gold that is alloyed with copper.

    Gold alloyed with silver may indeed tone more dramatically. I don't know. But I would still expect storage conditions to affect toning.

    Andy Lustig

    Doggedly collecting coins of the Central American Republic.

    Visit the Society of US Pattern Collectors at USPatterns.com.
  • RonyahskiRonyahski Posts: 3,116 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @jonruns said:
    I'd guess that the toning of the Bechtler coins comes from having different metals in the alloy.

    U.S. Mint gold is 90% gold and 10% copper.

    The Bechtlers were jewelers...and depending upon the issue their coins have different percentages of gold...and they most likely used alloys other than copper.

    My example below is 21 carats which means it is 87.5% gold and 12.5% something else (21/24 = .875). "24 karat gold contains 24 parts pure gold. 22 karat gold contains 22 parts gold and 2 parts of other metals added as alloy. 21 karat gold contains 21 parts gold with three parts of other metals added."

    A jeweler would probably use silver, zinc, nickel as alloys which might have created the special toning of these coins...

    @Regulated said:

    The toning is the result of the high silver content in the coins, not storage. We're all used to seeing gold that is alloyed with copper.

    At the time Bechtler coins were made. U.S. gold coins were not 90% gold/ 10% copper.

    Starting with the coins minted in 1837, the Act of Jan 18, 1837 raised the level of gold fineness in quarter eagles and half eagles from 89.9225% to 90%. The remaining composition for coins struck pre -1837 were copper and silver. Starting in 1837, the remaining composition was copper and silver, with silver not to exceed 5%. A higher silver content lends itself to coins developing a greenish/yellowish toning, while a higher content of copper will produce more orange and copper toning.

    During this time, the Philadelphia Mint had a policy of composing its gold coins with 7% copper and 3% silver, giving their coins more of an copper/orange look, then say their Charlotte and Dahlonega brethren. Southern gold coins contained more silver in the alloy because of higher silver content in southern mined gold, and early limitations on the ability of the southern mints to parse gold.

    So it is possible that a 21 carat gold Bechtler could contain more copper than a U.S. coin at the time, and certainly more of the other alloys.

    Some refer to overgraded slabs as Coffins. I like to think of them as Happy Coins.

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