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Lot 3475

Image Information

Type Coin
Title Lot 3475
Date 1860
Side obverse
Grade 63
Service NGC
Service Catalog # 10136
Denomination $5
Description 1860 $5 Clark, Gruber & Co. Five Dollar MS63+ NGC. CAC. K-2, R.4. Brothers Austin and Milton Clark made a small fortune selling groceries and supplies from their store in Leavenworth, Kansas to miners seeking gold in Colorado during the late 1850s. They went into the banking business with Emanuel Gruber, from Hagerstown, Maryland, and soon found themselves handling large amounts of gold dust from the newly discovered gold fields. When the extent of the gold rush became apparent, Clark Gruber & Co. established a private mint in Denver to coin the vast amounts of raw gold into coins of two and a half, five, ten, and twenty dollar denominations, providing a much-needed convenient medium of exchange for the local economy. Clark, Gruber & Co. enjoyed an excellent reputation with merchants, bankers, and businessmen, as their assays were scrupulously correct and their coins contained full weight and value of gold. Operating in 1860 and 1861, the firm steadily improved their coins in terms of design, strike, and durability. The coins produced in 1860 were not alloyed with silver or copper, making them soft and easy to wear down. A small amount of silver was added in 1861, and those coins proved more durable and were generally better struck than the 1860 issues. The date Clark, Gruber & Co. ceased operations is not known, but the federal government acquired the firm's assaying and coining operations in April of 1863 for the U.S. Assay Office at Denver, which eventually became the Denver Mint. The Clark, Gruber issues were popular with collectors at an early date and examples appeared at auction with some frequency in the early part of the 20th century. A good description of the Clark, Gruber & Co. five dollar piece (which closely resembles the contemporary federal half eagles) was provided in lot 1954 of the Matthew Stickney Collection (Henry Chapman, 6/1907): {blockquote}"1860 $5. Head of Liberty to left, CLARK & CO. on diadem, around 13 stars beneath date. R. Eagle with shield on breast, faces right, olive branch in his right talon and three arrows in left. PIKES PEAK GOLD DENVER. FIVE D. Borders beaded, edge milled. Very fine. Nick on reverse edge. See plate."{/blockquote} The lot realized a reasonable $12.50 to an unknown buyer. Recent sales include the fabulous MS65 PCGS example in lot 5617 of the FUN Signature Sale (Heritage, 1/2014), which realized $176,250. The 1860 Clark, Gruber & Co. five dollar gold piece is difficult to locate in high grade, but some high-quality examples have survived. The present coin is a high-end Select piece that traces its history to the famous cabinet of Waldo Newcomer. Newcomer was a Baltimore financier who formed one of the finest collections of all time in the first quarter of the 20th century. Unfortunately, his business suffered during the depression, and he sold his U.S. coins through B. Max Mehl, and his patterns and world coins through Wayte Raymond and James MacCallister, in the early 1930s. This coin possesses outstanding eye appeal and a high technical grade for a Territorial gold issue. The design elements are well detailed, with just a touch of the usual softness on the central obverse. The vivid orange-gold surfaces are brightly lustrous and show only minor signs of contact. A few interesting die cracks are evident on the obverse. This outstanding Clark, Gruber & Co. five dollar gold piece is a prize for the connoisseur of Territorial gold. Census: 5 in 63 (1 in 63+), 3 finer (8/14). Ex: Waldo Newcomer; possibly "Colonel" E.H.R. Green, via B. Max Mehl circa 1933; Eric P. Newman; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. Realized $28200.00. Description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

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