Gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California on January 24, 1848. The Gold Rush of 1848 – 1855 is the major factor in the growth and development of modern California. By 1855 over 300,000 people came to California to search for gold. By 1850 California wa a state. San Francisco grew from 200 people in 1846 to 36,000.
The early gold miners, called “forty-niners” found gold on the ground and by panning for gold in California’s river streams. By 1853, industrious groups of prospectors began diverting water from the rivers into sluices to process large amounts of river bed gravel with gold settling to the bottom of the sluice. (The front cover illustrates the use of the sluice process in recovering gold). In the first five years of the Gold Rush over $ 16 billion (12 million ounces) of gold was extracted using panning and sluices. By 1885, large industrial operations extracted an additional $15 billion in California gold using hydraulic mining.
This California Gold historical set includes six replicas of California gold pieces. Early gold pieces were minted by private companies and the US Assay Office. A wide variety of denominations were produced for trade and commerce.
1. San Francisco Cal. $50 Octagonal Gold pieces were manufactured in 1851 and 1852. This wasthe largest denomination of private minted coins. The obverse shows a spread eagle resting upon shields. The reverse shows ’50’ in center with jeweler markings circling the number.
2. An $18 one oz. rectangular gold ingot made by Meyers and Company. The small rectangle ismarked on the obverse with a hole on one side. The reverse is blank.
3. San Francisco Cal. $20 gold coin of 1854 made by Kellogg and Company. The obverse shows Liberty facing left with the coin circled by stars. The reverse shows an eagle with head turned left holding a banner in its claws.
4. Baldwin & Company, a California assayer in 1850 struck a $10 gold coin. The obverse shows rider on horseback facing right; San Francisco Gold and Ten Dollars around the rim. The reverse shows an American eagle with Baldwin & C0.and San Francisco around the rim.
5. An 1852 Indian head gold $1 piece. The obverse shows an Indian head facing left. The reverse shows a wreath marked California Gold.
6. San Francisco Cal. $20 gold coin of 1849 made by Cincinnati Mining and Trading Company. The obverse shows an Indian with head dress facing left. The reverse shows an eagle facing left..