Kellogg & Humbert Assayers Gold Ingot. Serial No. 957. 136.30 Ounces, .892 fine. $2,513.27 Contemporary Value. From the S.S. Central America Treasure.56 mm x 112 mm x 37 mm. Pristine condition, virtually as issued. Valued at $2,513.27 in 1857 when gold was $20.67 per ounce.
A tremendously exciting offering recovered from the wreck of the <em>S.S. Central America</em>. The San Francisco firm of Kellogg & Humbert was established in 1855 as the product of several mergers between prominent regional gold firms. Before long, their assayed bars gained acclaim and were popular in the metropolises of New York City and London, even being utilized by the United States Mint in Philadelphia. Monthly shipments delivered this gold to eastern destinations via steamers to Panama, where the newly constructed Panama Railroad would then transport cargo and passengers during the four-hour, 48-mile journey across the isthmus to the Atlantic coast for transit elsewhere.
The present offering was accompanied by at least 342 other bars from this firm on one such journey in late August of 1857. While the first leg of the voyage from San Francisco to Panama aboard the S.S. Sonora was unremarkable, the same, unfortunately, cannot be said about the remainder of the trip. After departing the Panamanian port of Colon, then known as Aspinwall, and making a brief stop in Havana, Cuba, the S.S. Central America steamed towards New York City with an estimated 597 passengers and crew and a cargo of over $1.2 million in registered treasure, Kellogg & Humbert ingot No. 957 included. On Friday, September 11, 1857, an unrelenting hurricane induced flooding that became too much for the coal-powered steam engines, rendering the vessel unable to pump out incoming water and left to the mercy of the tumultuous Atlantic. After floundering for more than a day, the ship disappeared beneath the waves shortly after 8 pm on Friday the 12th, claiming the lives of over 400 individuals and plunging its glistening cargo nearly one and a half miles to the ocean floor.
Lurking in the depths for more than 130 years, the wreckage of the S.S. Central America remained undisturbed until its discovery on September 11, 1988, causing considerable excitement around the world. Preserved by the environment of the sea floor, the treasure remained largely untroubled and required little conservation to be brought back to the pristine and shimmering condition that is observed here.
Fully bright and golden-yellow in finish, the surface is free of any noteworthy imperfections that might suggest its involvement in such a chaotic tragedy. Close inspection reveals insignificant abrasions and a minor texturing (more so in some areas than others) that is more the result of the casting process than time spent at sea. The top of the ingot is stamped NO 957 with the name of the firm, KELLOGG / & / HUMBERT / ASSAYERS, within a rectangular box below. Midway down the bar is the weight, 136.30 OZ, followed by the fineness, 892 FINE, and the value in gold at the time of manufacture, $2513.27. Considering that the current market price dictates a bullion value in excess of $200,000, much can be inferred about our economic change and growth over the past 150 years! The remaining faces are blank. Housed in a clear acrylic case, the ingot is easily viewable from all sides and thoroughly protected from harm.
This historic ingot is plated on page 445 of Q. David Bowers monumental reference <em>A California Gold Rush History</em> (2002). It serves as a fascinating link to that particularly popular era of the Old West, and is also an important relic for collectors of shipwreck treasure. Sure to serve as a focal point in the next advanced cabinet in which it is included.<em><strong>Due to the size and nature of this lot, additional shipping charges apply. Please call 800-458-4646 for more information</strong></em>.