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Henry Hentsch came to California from Switzerland in 1854 to establish a banking house in San Francisco.  In 1856, assay services were added.  The business continued until 1873, when it became a part of the Swiss-American Bank. 

The following assay bars were offered by Sotheby's in their December 8-9, 1999 offering of the "Treasures from the SS Central America."  Sadly, the sale was cancelled because of an injunction, and the market awaits the opportunity to value and purchase these incredibly rare bars.

  • Lot 55, $402.71, No. 3229, 22.60 oz., .862 fine

  • Lot 56, $403.91, No. 3160, 22.88 oz., .854 fine

  • Lot 142, $819.06, No. 3067, 43.83 oz., .904 fine

  • Lot 143, $1,168.78, No. 3211, 67.07 oz., .843 fine

  • Lot 144, $1,983.54, No. 3144, 118.17 oz., .812 fine

  • Lot 57, $3,211.15, No. 3066, 172.60 oz., .900 fine [could this bar have been made from melted down coins?]

Note the tight range of serial numbers (3066-3229), indicating that more of these bars may come on the market when the balance of the treasure is sold (Sotheby's 1999 offering represented only an approximate 8% of the total amount recovered)!

Sotheby's observed that the Hentsch bars had a matte finish quite unlike that of any other bar in the S.S. "Central America" treasure.