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Lot 3476


Image Information

Type Coin
Title Lot 3476
Date 1860
Side obverse
Grade 61
Service NGC
Service Catalog # 10137
Denomination $10
Description 1860 $10 Clark, Gruber & Co. Ten Dollar MS61 NGC. CAC. K-3, R.5. The firm of Clark, Gruber & Co. was formed as a banking partnership in Leavenworth, Kansas in March of 1859, shortly after the discovery of gold in the region that would later form the state of Colorado (neither Kansas nor Colorado had been admitted to the Union at the time). The principals were brothers Austin M. and Milton Edward Clark, and Emanuel Henry Gruber. The partnership benefited from its relative proximity to the gold fields, and purchased large amounts of gold dust from the miners, who found it easier and safer to transport their findings to Leavenworth than to the Philadelphia or San Francisco Mints. The evolution of the Kansas bank into a private mint was outlined by partner E.H. Gruber in an article in the Denver Times in 1904: {blockquote}"My firm was one of the heaviest purchasers of gold dust in the early days. And when we bought a large quantity of dust, we had to ship it to the states to have it coined into money. This was a rather expensive proceeding, as there were only stage coaches and pony express reaching this city in those days, and we had to pay 5 percent of the value of the dust as an insurance against loss in transit and another 5 percent expressage. Our dust was out of our hands for anywhere from three weeks to three months, and often times the cash we would have in transit would total nearly $300,000. This was considerable money to have and yet not be able to use for months at a time, so one day the idea struck me that the firm of Clark, Gruber & Co. bankers should also become coiners."{/blockquote} Consulting with his partner, Milton Clark (who was a lawyer as well as grocer and banker), Gruber determined that there was no legal prohibition against private coinage, as long as the coinage was of full weight and value. The firm purchased the necessary machinery and dies for coining in New York and Philadelphia, and purchased three lots in Denver City to build their new facility on by January of 1860. The firm opened its new mint, which was one of the sights of Denver, on July 10 1860, although the building was not completed until six days later, and the first coinage was accomplished on July 20. Clark, Gruber & Co. was scrupulously honest in its coinage operations and the firm established a reputation that was second-to-none in the private coinage industry. Their coins, issued in two and a half, five, ten, and twenty dollar denominations, were well-executed and widely received at par, as their intrinsic value was slightly in excess of the face value. The firm operated as a private mint during much of 1860 and 1861, issuing a total of $594,305 in gold coins during that time period. No 1862-dated coins are known, but the firm reportedly issued gold bars that year. Shortly afterward, the firm sold its operations to the United States government, as the precursor of the Denver Mint. The 1860 Clark, Gruber & Co. ten dollar pieces, like all the 1860 issues, were struck in unalloyed gold, causing the soft gold coins to wear down quickly. As a result, the issue is seldom encountered in Mint State grades today. A small amount of silver was added to the 1861 issues, to alleviate this problem. The obverse design of the ten and twenty dollar pieces featured an artist's conception of Pike's Peak that was not very realistic and was replaced by the more familiar head of Liberty the following year. A good description of the 1860 Clark, Gruber & Co. ten dollar piece is found in lot 829 of the Charles W. Cowell Collection (B. Max Mehl, 11/1911): {blockquote}"1860 $10 Obverse, view of Pike's Peak, below which is the word DENVER. Around border, PIKES PEAK GOLD. TEN D. Reverse, defiant eagle with U.S. shield on breast; an olive branch in his right talon and three arrows in left. Around CLARK, GRUBER & CO. 1860. Extremely fine. very rare."{/blockquote} Cowell was a collector from Denver and, according to Mehl, his collection was the first offering to include a complete set of Clark, Gruber & Co. issues. Recent sales of the ten dollar issue include the terrific MS63 NGC coin in lot 5460 of the Riverboat Collection (Heritage, 4/2014) that realized $111,625. The coin offered here is an attractive MS61 example with vivid orange-gold surfaces that show a scattering of minor contact marks on both sides, with traces of prooflike reflectivity in sheltered areas. The design elements are well-detailed, and a spidery die crack shows on the reverse, from the edge at 9:30 to the eagle's beak. We expect intense competition when this impressive Colorado rarity crosses the auction block. Census: 5 in 61, 10 finer (8/14). Ex: Eric Newman Numismatic Education Society. Realized $47000.00. Description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

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