One of just 10 known numbered examples of the 1856 San Francisco
Committee of Vigilance silver medal is among the 2,657 lots to be
offered in the Western Americana Safari in Reno, Nev., Dec. 9 to 12
Western Americana Collections LLC.
The sale also includes nugget tokens, gold nuggets, stock
certificates and other mining memorabilia.
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The buyer’s fee is 21 percent added to the final closing hammer
price of each lot won if payment is by cash, check, money order or
wire transfer. For all other forms of payment, the buyer’s fee is 24 percent.
Committee of Vigilance
The 37.1-millimeter Committee of Vigilance silver medal,
looped at the top for suspension, is inscribed 1884 on a plaque on the
reverse. The piece is 3.5 to 3.7 millimeters thick with a plain edge
and weighs 26.219 grams. The estimate is $25,000 to $35,000.
The medal's obverse depicts Justice as a classically gowned woman
with scales held in left hand and a sword in her right. Inscribed
around the top border is BE JUST AND FEAR NOT. FIAT JUSTITIA RUAT
COELUM. Engraved in the space below the base on which Justice stands
is SAN FRANCISCO / CALIFORNIA. To the left of the sword, on the base,
is inscribed V & G, the hallmark for the manufacturer Vachon & Gihon.
The reverse depicts the Great Seal of the San Francisco Committee of
Vigilance, comprising the all-seeing eye in the center and a scroll
below to receive the member’s number. COMMITTEE OF VIGILANCE is above
the eye and around the top is ORGANIZED 9TH JUNE 1851. REORGANIZED
14TH MAY 1856.
Created in 1851 to clean up corruption in San Francisco, the
committee was disbanded the same year by gubernatorial edict because
the committee used unlawful means in its attempts to extinguish from
the city crime and people it considered undesirable.
The committee was resurrected in 1856 after newspaper editor James
King of William was shot to death by James P. Casey, one of the city’s
thugs that King had called out in the pages of his newspaper, the
Daily Evening Bulletin.
The Committee of Vigilance immediately enrolled 2,600 members,
expanding that number eventually to more than 7,000.
According to the auction lot description, “It was said that every
man who held a municipal position was elected by fraudulent means that
were orchestrated by Casey. The first act of the Vigilance Committee
was to hold their own election and replace every elected official in
San Francisco. Their next act was to retrieve Casey from the local
jail (where he was put in protective custody). The sheriff seeing
canons and companies of men surrounding his building gave up Casey.
Casey was tried and hung. The Governor of California soon declared the
city of San Francisco to be in a state of insurrection. He ordered a
militia be secured, but he could not find 150 men to fill its ranks.
The Committee continued to deport undesirable characters and hang the
most offensive. Late in 1856 the Vigilance Committee disbanded having
successfully completed their mission to once again restore law and
order to the streets of San Francisco and to clean up the corrupt
government of the city.”
Among the nugget tokens is a 31-millimeter copper token issued in
Anchorage, Alaska, by the jewelry firm of Walter A. Lord Co. The
tokens were struck without a gold nugget or a 4-millimeter loop by the
token manufacturer that supplied the tokens to Lord. After receiving
the struck tokens in 1923, the jeweler soldered gold nuggets received
from local miners on some of the tokens and added a loop to the token.
The example offered in the Holabird sale has a gold nugget and loop
added. The piece is described as in About Uncirculated 55 condition.
The token has an estimate of $2,000 to $3,000.
Offered with an estimate of $750 to $1,100 is a 0.51-ounce oddly
shaped placer gold nugget resembling a hammer.
The 25-millimeter by 24-millimeter nugget was retrieved from the
Yuba River near Sierra City, Calif.
Among the stock certificates offered is one issued Nov. 3, 1867, by
the Rozencrans & Antelope Extension Gold & Silver Mining Co.
in Aurora, Calif., to investor George A. Clark for 600 shares at $200
per share. According to the auction lot description, while the
company issued 600 total shares, the stock certificate issued to Clark
was No. 23, suggesting additional shares were sold to raise
Appearing on either side of the central mining company vignette are
etched imprints of Coronet gold $20 double eagles.
The stock certificate is signed by Willam M. Davis as mining company
secretary and A.S. Lotopeieh as company president.
The stock certificate has an estimate of $1,000 to $2,000.