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1849 COLUMBUS COMPANY $5 GOLD
In 1849, the Columbus and California Industrial Association of
Columbus, Ohio contracted for trial pieces in copper and gilt-silver
of a proposed Columbus Company $5 gold coin.
Three examples are known today, as follows:
1. Gilt-Silver. National Numismatic
Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.
2. Copper, 87.5
grains, Extremely Fine. Provenance: Virgil Brand - Burdette
Johnson (St. Louis Coin Company), November 15, 1934 - John Work
Garrett - Bowers & Ruddy Galleries 1980 sale of the Garrett
Collection, Part II, Lot 888 at $18,000.
3. Gilt-Silver. 1890 sale of the
Lorin G. Parmalee Collection. Fine-VF
None are known in gold.
Sources and/or recommended
Bowers & Ruddy Galleries, Inc. 1980 sale of
the Garrett Collection, Part II, Lot 888.
Tebben, Gerald, "On My Way To
California", July 19, 1999 issue of COIN WORLD Magazine, Amos
Press, Sidney, OH, pp. 74-76
Personal conversation with Dr. Donald Kagin, September
HISTORY OF THE COLUMBUS COMPANY
Until the recent discovery of an article in the Daily Ohio State
Journal, February 15, 1849, nothing was known concerning the
details of this company, except for its name on the surviving copper
and silver trial pieces. The companys full name was Columbus and
California Industrial Association, composed of thirty partners who
contributed $225 each. Officers were John Walton, President; J.G.
Canfield, Vice President; P. Decker, Secretary; and G.Q.McColm,
Treasurer. They and G. Walton, T.J. Price, H. Moore, G.
Breyfogle, and James Bryden were listed as directors.
The association was organized on February 15, 1849,
and evidently to commemorate the event, that date was scratched on a
silver $5 trial piece. This item, another silver piece, and a copper
$5 trial strike were originally discovered in the East. Passage to
California was delayed by ice on the Ohio River, but by April 2,
1849, the weather had improved and the newspaper announced,
"The Boys are off for California."
The Columbus and California Industrial Association
traveled with ten wagons, forty mules, and a full complement of
minting equipment, provisions, and arms. As they traveled , the
pioneers divided themselves into five "messes" with one
Leaving Columbus, the association passed through
Xenia (the railroad there was in the planning stage) and then on to
Cincinnati. There they boarded the river steamer to Independence,
Missouri, and commenced their trek across the plains.
The company probably arrived at the Sacramento
Valley in the autumn of 1849, and soon afterwards left for the gold
fields. Perhaps because they were homesick or only moderately
successful, President John Walton along with J. Stone, J. Price, D.
Rugg, and C. Dewitt returned to Columbus after little more than a
year in California. Director C. Breyfogle and his group remained for
two years. Evidently both returning groups had experienced some
business success, because they took the more expensive route home,
involving steamers to Panama, New Orleans, and up the Mississippi.
The avowed purpose of the Columbus and California
Industrial Association was to commence mining operations and thus
procure gold and other minerals in California and elsewhere on the
shores of the Pacific Ocean. The title and purpose of the
Association seems to indicate that if not engaged in gold mining,
many of the members were skilled workmen who would have been quick
to grasp the advantages and practicality of a private mint.
One member, J. H. Felch, easily could have been the
engraver for the "Columbus Company" dies. One of his Ohio
And copper plate printer. Ambus building.
Steel, Copper & Wood Engraving in all the various
branches, neatly executed. Business Visiting and
Professional Cards engraved and printed to order. State,
County, Society and other seals engraved on brass or wood.
Wood type of all sizes cut to order. Ladies and
Gentlemen having card Plates can have Cards printed on short
--Reprinted with permission of the author
from Donald H. Kagin's, "Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the
United States", copyright 1981, Arco Publishing, Inc. of New
York, pp 77-78.