J. J. Conway and Company – Minting Colorado Gold
J. J. Conway was a jeweler and watchmaker by trade. He also dabbled in banking for a time in Colorado Territory. He formed a company to solve the problems of the gold miners who found gold dust in several areas in Colorado from 1859 to 1861. These miners needed someone to take their gold dust and turn it into coinage that they could use for commerce.
Numerous others also tried to mint coins for the miners – all with varying degrees of success. J. J. Conway located himself and his company in Georgia Gulch, an area some 85 miles southwest of Denver, the Territorial Capital.
Conway tried to alleviate the problems that these miners had with valuing the gold dust by weighing and turning the gold dust into actual coinage. During his brief run in 1861, Conway & Company struck $2.50, $5.00 and $10.00 gold coins, which merchants, miners and bankers were desperate to have. All three denominations were struck during the summer months of 1861, just as the Civil War was starting.
The $2.50 gold coin of J. J. Conway & Company, was of simple design. The obverse was text with “J. J. CONWAY” at the top periphery and “& CO,” at the center of the obverse. The bottom periphery had the word “BANKERS” inscribed on it. “J J CONWAY” and “BANKERS” were separated by 2 six-pointed stars.
The reverse design had a central vignette of a large and ornate “2 ½” with the words “PIKES PEAK” across the top periphery and “DOLL:S” on the bottom periphery. “PIKES PEAK” and “DOLL:S” were separated by two five-pointed stars.
The $5.00 denomination gold coin had a similar design. On the obverse, the difference is that there are 13 five-pointed stars encircling the words “& Co.”. On the reverse, the denomination had changed from “2 ½” to “5” and the two stars separating the words around the periphery have now been removed.
The $10.00 coin struck also had several minor differences. On the obverse, around the periphery were “J. J. CONWAY” and “BANKERS” separated by rosettes. There was also an inner circle in which “& CO.” were depicted. The 13 stars were removed from the obverse.
The reverse had the denomination changed from “5” to “10” and 13 six-pointed stars surrounded the numerical value.
The $10.00 gold coin is the rarest of all types of early Colorado gold with only three known examples, 2 of which are in the Smithsonian collection and just one in private hands.
The coins were all struck in July and August of 1861 and by October, the J. J. Conway & Company mint was no more. All surviving specimens of any denomination are rare.
|Date||Type||Mintage||VF Value||AU Value|
|(1861)||$2.50 Gold||8-12 Known||$350,000||$650,000|
|(1861)||$5.00 Gold||5-8 Known||$475,000||$800,000|
|(1861)||$10.00 Gold||3 Known||Priceless||Priceless|
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