1861 Clark, Gruber & Co. $20 coin resembles average gold issue, but look closer — it’s not

Market Analysis: Rare gold stands out in July 21 auction at Missouri Numismatic Society show
By , Coin World
Published : 08/08/17
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Scotsman Auction Co. hosted its Midwest Summer Sale on July 21 as part of the Missouri Numismatic Society’s 57th Annual Coin Festival at the Saint Charles Convention Center in metropolitan Saint Louis. Rare gold coins were standouts in the auction, which realized more than $1.6 million across 1,096 lots. Among the more interesting offerings was an 1873 Proof set with 14 coins from the Indian Head cent to the Trade dollar, each graded by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. ranging from Proof 60 Cleaned to Proof 65, that sold for $12,075. 

Here's one of three gold coin standouts that sold at the recent Scotsman Auction:

The Coin:

1861 Clark, Gruber & Co. pioneer gold $20 coin, EF-40

The Price:

$43,700

The Story:

Clark, Gruber & Co. was a prominent Denver private minting firm that struck a range of gold issues dated 1860 and 1861. Its largest denomination was a $20 piece dated 1861 that closely approximated the contemporary circulating Coronet double eagle.


The fallout from the Enhanced Uncirculated Coin set release: Another column in the August 21 weekly issue of Coin World reveals that while forms of numismatic literature like fixed-price lists were meant to be fleeting, they can actually be quite useful.


Liberty’s coronet says PIKES PEAK rather than LIBERTY and the reverse legend around the eagle identifies the firm, but otherwise it might pass as a contemporary gold $20 coin to the casual observer.

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Gold miners could visit the firm’s facility in Denver and trade their gold dust and nuggets into a usable currency, like the subject coin.

The coin is graded Extremely Fine 40 by Professional Coin Grading Service. As Scotsman notes in its description, Clark, Gruber & Co. coins serve as representatives of the “relatively brief periods of optimism when miners set out toward the west to ‘strike it rich.’ ” The privately issued gold coin, collected under the category of pioneer gold (also called private and territorial gold) and described as having “brassy luster” and “smooth and slightly glossy fields,” realized $43,700.

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