Precious metal with a historic link: gold bars from shipwreck in FUN auction

Platinum Night sale by Heritage offers gold from SS Central America
By , Coin World
Published : 12/14/16
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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.

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