Six gold bars ranging in weight from 34.94 ounces to 327.97 ounces
that were salvaged from the 1857 shipwreck SS Central America will cross the auction
block during Heritage
Auctions' Jan. 5 Platinum Night session in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The auction is being held in conjunction with the Florida United
Numismatists convention at the Greater Fort
Lauderdale-Broward County Convention Center.
The six gold bars were issued by three California assaying firms —
Kellogg & Humbert, Justh & Hunter, and Henry Hentsch. Each of
the bars bears stamps identifying its serial number, fineness, weight
and value, and the name of its issuer.
A buyer’s fee of 17.5 percent will be added to the closing hammer
price of each lot won.
Justh & Hunter
The Platinum Night session offers three gold bars stamped JUSTH
& HUNTER — one weighing 85.49 ounces, one weighing 179.50 ounces and one weighing 327.97 ounces.
The Hungarian-born Emil Justh, a lithographer by trade, arrived in
San Francisco in 1851 and opened a lithographic printing office. The
business closed, after which Justh eventually became an assistant
assayer in 1854 at the newly opened San Francisco Mint. In 1855, after
leaving the Mint, Justh formed an assaying partnership with former
Baltimore merchant Solomon Hunter.
The 85.49-ounce bar has the inscription details oriented
horizontally. At the tip is NO. 4200, following by the Justh &
Hunter hallmark, reflected as JUSTH&HUNTER in an arc. In the same
line below is 85.49 OZS and 886 FINE, with the bottom line reflecting
the 1857 value at $1565.76.
A 179.50-ounce ingot, measuring 124 millimeters by 51 millimeters by
47 millimeters is, according to the auction lot description, “the only
ingot cast from this mold size.”
The face is stamped No 4250 / JUSTH&HUNTER / 179.50 ozs 886 FINE
/ $3287.50. The numeral 50, the last two digits in the serial number,
also appear on the back.
The 327.97-ounce bar, the equivalent of 20.49 pounds, is the largest
in the sale in weight and dimensions. It is the second largest bar
identified as from Justh & Hunter's Marysville, Calif., office.
The bar measures 62 millimeters by 180 millimeters by 49
millimeters. The face side is laid out with the incuse stamps
scattered horizontally on the long side. NO. 9496 is positioned on a
top line at center. In a next line, at left, is the JUSTH&HUNTER
arc with 327.97 OZS. below. To the far right is JUSTH&HUNTER with
909 FINE. below. Centered at the bottom is the value, $6162.78.
Kellogg & Humbert
Two Kellogg & Humbert bars are offered in the Jan. 5 auction
session — one weighing 152.96 ounces and the second, 34.94 ounces.
Salvors recovered 532 gold bars from the SS Central America
wreck site off the coast of the Carolinas. Of the total, roughly 65
percent were stamped with the Kellogg & Humbert hallmark.
John Grover Kellogg and Augustus Humbert were recognized as two of
the most reputable assayers in San Francisco in the 1850s. Humbert
became United States Assayer in 1851. Kellogg previously worked with
Moffat & Co. and eventually formed a partnership with G.F. Richter
Kellogg and Humbert joined forces in 1854 to privately strike large
numbers of gold $20 coins because the recently opened San Francisco
Mint could not keep up with public demand.
The larger of the two Kellogg and Humbert ingots measures 64
millimeters by 150 millimeters by 28 millimeters.
The face of the larger bar is stamped in five lines, No 482 /
K&H hallmark / 152.96 Oz. / 886 FINE / $2801.49.
The hallmark within a box reads KELLOGG / & / HUMBERT /
ASSAYERS. The numerals 482 are also stamped on the back of the bar.
The smaller bar measures 43 millimeters by 53 millimeters by 28
millimeters. The face is stamped No 715 / 34.94 OZ/ 855 FINE /
$617.54. The hallmark is stamped on the right edge.
While more than 500 gold bars were retrieved from the SS Central
America wreckage, just 33 bear the hallmark of assayer Henry
Hentsch. That is the fewest among the bars recovered and assigned to
an identified assayer.
The Hentsch bar offered, at 45 ounces, is classified
by experts as a “medium to large size” ingot.
The bar measures 48 millimeters wide by 74 millimeters long by 21
The face of the bar is stamped in five lines No 3212 / 914 FINE / HY
HENTSCH / OZ 45.00 / $850.23