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Obverse of Moffat & Co. $16 Ingot

Reverse of Moffat & Co. $16 Ingot

1849 MOFFAT & CO.

PCGS No: 10253

Variety equivalents:
Breen 7778 = Kagin 3

Rarity: Very Rare

Circulation strikes: Unknown
Proofs: 0


Dimensions: millimeters

Metal content:
Gold - 20.75 Carat
Other - various

Weight:  grains ( grams)

Edge: Plain

Mintmark: None (all were struck privately in San Francisco, California)

Images courtesy of Ron Guth

Upon hearing of the discovery of gold in California, 61-year old John Little Moffat and his partners boarded a ship for San Francisco with the intention of opening an assaying and gold brokerage business. Their first offerings (circa 1949) were small, rectangular ingots of various denominations. 

The central punch used on Moffat & Co. ingots contained three lines.  The top line contained the words "MOFFAT & CO" with a background of fine vertical lines.  The center line was left blank; later, the fineness (the purity of the gold expressed in Carats) was stamped in with individual punches.  The bottom line contained a dollar sign against a background of fine vertical lines; later, the value of the ingot was stamped in (this appears to have been done with individual punches).  This standardized, central punch allowed Moffat & Co. to make small ingots in a variety of different values.  At present the $9.43 and $14.25 ingots are unique; the $16.00 ingot is very rare. 

$16.00 approximated the value of one ounce of gold circa 1849.

Each of the $16 ingots was made by pouring molten gold into a small mold of standard size.  Once cooled, the mold was opened and the raised sprue (the round stem formed by the hole through which the gold was poured) was cut off.  Breen noted: "All show a stem spot on blank r. edge."  This statement is incorrect, as the ingot illustrated above features a stem spot on the left edge.

The ingots saw limited circulation because of the often odd denominations, but they served to prevent much of the cheating typical of transactions involving gold dust. 

The finest example graded by PCGS is a single AU-58.

The Story of the Moffat & Company Gold Coins

Significant examples:
PCGS AU-55 (illustrated above).  Ex - Humbert - Kellegg - Zabriskie - Chapman, June 1909, lot 345 - Farouk - Sotheby's "Farouk" Sale, lot 355, unsold - various intermediaries - U.S. collector

Sources and/or recommended reading:
"Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins" by Walter Breen (purchase a copy by clicking on the title)

"Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States" by Donald H. Kagin

"The PCGS Population Report, April 2002" by The Professional Coin Grading Service