Transporting California’s Gold
In 1851, returning Californian gold miners would head
for the New Orleans or Philadelphia Mints.
Of miners bringing gold back east from California, Jacob R. Eckfeldt and William E. Dubois, assayers of the U.S. Mint, writing in 1851 in New Varieties of Gold and Silver Coins, Counterfeit Coins, and Bullion, stated that “The advantage of having gold grains or dust cast into bars, as a preparative for exportation, is perhaps overrated...A good tin box, well soldered, will hold fast and keep dry; and the mint charges nothing for melting...” (In 1851, returning Californian gold miners would head for the New Orleans or Philadelphia Mints, as the miners shown above.)... “This is the most general kind of packing now used, but the tin case, if large, requires to be enclosed in a wooden box, and after that there is need of a vigilant watch and care. A most daring theft was lately committed, somewhere on the route, by boring through box and case; and about $9,000 worth was abstracted.” Whether it was fear of similar thefts, or convenience, by 1857, the packing methods of the returning miners for raw gold had changed. The San Francisco Mint had opened in 1856, facilitating coinage of $20 gold pieces, and much of the gold found on the wreck of the S.S. Central America was in coin and bar form, although ample quantities of raw nuggets and dust also were retrieved.