California Gold Coins and Templeton Reid
Templeton Reid made his name famous by striking Georgia Private Gold coins in 1830. He struck $2.50, $5.00 and $10.00 examples. They circulated well during 1830 in Georgia and surrounding states until later in that year when it was shown that while his weights were extremely accurate, his assay of the fineness of the Gold was off. His $10.00 Eagle Gold coin only contained $9.38 worth of Gold. This effectively ruined his reputation as a coin minter at least in Georgia.
But in 1849 Gold fever was rampant across the United States with the discovery of a huge load of Gold at Sutter’s Mill in California. Eventually, two private Gold coins, one a $10.00 denomination and the other a $25.00 Gold coin, surfaced with the name “TEMPLETON REID” on them, just as they did in Georgia.
Did Reid head 2,500 miles west to California to reclaim his place as a private minter? No one knows for certain but Reid would have been 60 years of age and not in great health. It is much more likely that Reid struck these two coins from the Gold ore or Gold dust that was originally mined in California. That is a much more likely and plausible situation than the former.
Following his Georgia Gold tradition, the coins were simply designed. The obverse of the $10.00 Gold coin has the denomination “TEN DOLLAR” in two lines on the center of the coin. Around the periphery of the obverse is “CALIFORNIA GOLD” with each word separated by a six-pointed star.
The reverse has the date “18 49” widely separated in the center with “*TEMPLETON REID* ASSAYER” around the periphery using the same six-pointed stars as used on the obverse.
Reid also struck a large $25.00 denomination gold coin. This coin was simply designed as were all of his coins. The obverse has a dollar sign “$” and the denomination in Roman numerals “XXV” near the top of the coin and the date “1849” near the bottom of the obverse. Around the periphery of the obverse is “ * TEMPLETON REID * ASSAYER”. Separating his name and title are two small stars.
The reverse of the coin has a compass-type design in the center coin with “TWENTY-FIVE” and “DOLLARS” surrounding the compass. Around the upper periphery is “CALIFORNIA” and on the lower periphery is “GOLD”.
(The Templeton Reid 1849 California Gold Coin. Obverse [left], Reverse[right].)
These two coins were of lower Gold purity than his Georgia gold coins. Reid had estimated that they were .893 Fine while the U.S. Mint stated that their purity was .871.
There is only ONE KNOWN EXAMPLE of each of these magnificent coins.
The $10.00 coin is in the National Collection at the Smithsonian. The $25 Gold coin was stolen from its home in the United States Mint’s Cabinet Collection in 1858 and has never been recovered. It is feared that the coin was stolen in 1858 and then melted for its Gold content.
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