The Edward C. Rochette Money Museum, operated by the American Numismatic Association in Colorado Springs, Colo., has unveiled an expansion of its “Gold Rush” exhibit, which currently highlights Colorado mining history with displays of Clark Gruber & Co. pioneer gold coins and Lesher dollars.
The Clark Gruber coins and Lesher dollars (medals, actually) both have local connections for the organization based in Colorado Springs.
The permanent exhibit now showcases the California Gold Rush as seen through the instruments that were essential for processing bullion — scales and weights. The exhibit was made possible through a donation from the Gerard A. Smith Collection.
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Notable instruments on display include a giant scale used at the Denver Mint, as well as handheld scales used by miners and prospectors in the gold fields.
Also on display is a scale model replica of a Wells Fargo “Concord” stagecoach. First introduced in 1827, the Concord stagecoach was designed for freight and passenger service; Wells Fargo adopted the Concord for its passenger, mail and bullion service in 1852.
“Donations of this type help to make the ANA’s educational mission possible and enables the Money Museum to enhance exhibits by illustrating the history of our country through numismatic objects,” said Doug Mudd, the Money Museum’s curator and director.
Rush for riches
The California Gold Rush began in 1848 with James Wilson Marshall’s historic find at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, Calif. The world became electrified as rumors of a gold discovery spread; within months, 300,000 potential miners stampeded west to the new promised land of mineral riches.
The balance (also known as the balance scale, beam balance or laboratory balance) was the first mass measuring instrument invented. Scales have been used in the U.S. since the colonial period to weigh coins, accurately calculate their value and detect counterfeits. Scales were also essential to miners.