Beautiful 1865-S $20 Brother Jonathan #644 PCGS MS63 - $17,500. Click on Coin Image to
addition to this weeks coin of the week, we almost forgot
to mention that Tom’s been mentioned in the E-Sylum,
an eblog for coin collectors that is on a higher level
than most. Here they mention Tom and Regulated Gold:
A strong strike
and muted mint luster characterize this Western branch
mint, Civil War dated 1865-S Double Eagle that comes
with the provenance of the ill-fated SS Brother Jonathan.
The strike shows full details on the centers of the
stars, Liberty’s hair, and the design elements
of the reverse, especially the eagle. The surfaces are
original and clean for the grade with no individually
notable abrasion marks.
me by email
or telephone 1-800-624-1870
to reserve this great coin.
The SS Brother Jonathan
was built in 1851 by Edward Mills, a New Yorker who
wanted to operate a shipping business during the Gold
Rush era. The ship was 220 feet long and 36 feet wide.
It traveled from New York to Panama. Its passengers
would cross the Isthmus of Panama and proceed to California
in another ship. In 1852, Cornelius Vanderbilt purchased
the Brother Jonathan to replace one of his ships that
had been wrecked. He had it sail around Cape Horn and
used it on the Pacific to travel to California. Vanderbilt
had the ship rebuilt to accommodate more passengers.
In 1856 the ship was sold to Captain John Wright, who
renamed it the Commodore. She traveled up the coast
from San Francisco to Vancouver and back.
By 1861, the ship was
in poor condition. It was sold to the California Steam
Navigation Company and retrofitted. The original name
was restored, and it continued to service the route
from San Francisco to Vancouver. The Brother Jonathan
was one of the fastest ships to sail that route and
had a reputation for being one of the finest steamers
on the Pacific Coast.
In 1865, the ship was
headed from San Francisco to Portland. It carried about
150 passengers, a crew of 60 and a large cargo that
included an unknown quantity of gold coins. The ship
ran into heavy winds and put in to port at Crescent
City. In the morning the voyage was resumed, but the
seas were still rough. The captain ordered it returned
to port, but it struck a submerged rock that was hidden
just below the surface of the water. The ship sank along
with most of the passengers, crew, and captain.
In the 1990’s
a group of investors formed Deep Sea Research, Inc.
and found the ship. More than 1000 gold coins were recovered
that consisted mainly of 1865-S double eagles.
The San Francisco Mint
opened in 1854 because of the need to coin gold resulting
from the California Gold Rush. In the West there was
an abundance of gold bullion, nuggets and dust; however,
there was also an acute shortage of circulating coinage.
Congress authorized this mint to relieve the shortage
and coin silver and gold and because transportation
of bullion to Philadelphia was time consuming and hazardous.
Because of its proximity to the Gold Rush area, San
Francisco was chosen as the site of the new mint. In
1874 it moved into a new building called the Old United
States Mint or the Granite Lady. It is one of the few
structures that survived the earthquake of 1906. It
remained in service as a mint until 1938, when the present
In its first year of
operation the Mint made four million dollars in gold
coins from bullion. The second building, the Old United
States Mint, was designed by Alfred B. Mullett in Greek
Revival style. It was built in an E-shape with a central
pediment portico. There was a completely enclosed courtyard
that had a well. It was these features that saved it
in the fire that resulted from the earthquake of 1906.
The building was situated on a concrete and granite
foundation that was made to prevent tunneling into its
vaults. In 1906 there was $300 million, a third of the
United States’ gold reserves, in its vaults. Frank
Leach and his men worked heroically to successfully
preserve the building and the bullion. The mint was
able to resume service and operated until 1937. It was
designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961.