GOLD PIECES by The E-Sylum: Volume
19, Number 10, March 6, 2016, Article 14
Numismatic News published
a short article on February 29, 2016 about a group of American
regulated gold pieces recently submitted to Numismatic Guaranty
Numismatic Guaranty Corporation reports it certified six
rare early American regulated gold pieces that were submitted
during the New York International Numismatic Convention.
Regulated gold coins represent an important era in United
States coin circulation history.
Before the U.S. began minting coins, foreign
coins were used in commerce. In order to facilitate their
circulation, the coins were clipped or had a plug added,
regulating them to a specific weight. They were then stamped
with a dollar value and the hallmark of the assayer.
Five of the submitted coins bear the hallmark
of Ephraim Brasher, a famous gold and silversmith. He is
well known for producing the Brasher doubloon, the first
gold coin minted for the United States. Joseph Richardson,
Jr. stamped the other regulated gold piece.
NGC states the dealer who sent the coins
in noticed the interesting countermarks and was unaware
of their rarity.
A web search found a nice group of regulated
gold at the site of Tom Pilitowski, US Rare Coin Investments.
The coins pictured are in NGC holders, but these may not
be the pieces discussed in the Numismatic News article.
Here's an excerpt, but be sure to read the entire page;
there's more information here on issuers of regulated gold
than I remember seeing anywhere else. -Editor
Gold Coins - Article I, Section 8, Clause 5 of the Constitution
gives Congress the power to “coin money, regulate the value
thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights
and measures.” This power was necessary in post-Revolutionary
times because gold coins from many countries of the world
circulated as legal tender in the United States. They were
valued for their gold content not as specie. This cacophony
of coins of the world would be an obvious source of confusion
in domestic and foreign commerce. Coins from Brazil, Portugal,
Spain, France, and England all circulated concurrently.
However, each had a different weight and fineness making
trade extremely inconvenient.
The problem was first dealt with in colonial
times, when coins were “regulated.” This practice continued
after Independence. A goldsmith or silversmith would drill
a coin and add gold in the form of a plug to increase its
weight. If it was then overweight, he would clip and/or
file its edge. Thus, coins were “regulated” to certain standards.
The plugs that were added were then stamped with a hallmark
identifying the regulator who guaranteed the gold content
of the piece. Regulators, who were also jewelers and highly
thought of members of the community, included John Bayley,
John Burger, John David Jr., Lewis Feuter, Myer Myers, Thomas
Pons, Thomas Underhill, and William Hollingshead. However,
none was so prominent and famous in numismatic circles as
a gold coin circulates, its weight can change. Honest wear
as well as dishonest practices cause changes in weight and
therefore value. Coins were clipped and sometimes a bag
of coins was “sweated.” It would be shaken and the resulting
dust and other gold residue would be accumulated and later
sold. So in addition to coins coming from different countries,
they might have had to be regulated because of their diminished
value as a result of wear, clipping, or sweating.
Regulated coins have been found
in collections of famous collectors and numismatists. These
include Virgil M. Brand, Louis Eliasberg, John J. Ford Jr.,
John Work Garrett, Waldo Newcomer, and John L. Roper. Edward
Roehrs had an excellent collection of regulated coins that
was auctioned in 2010 at the ANA Boston World’s Fair of