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Image of Clark, Gruber & Co., 20 Dollars, 1860
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Materials: Gold
Measurement: Dia. 34.4 mm, Wt. 36.813 g
Source: Transfer from U.S. Mint

Clark, Gruber & Co., 20 Dollars, 1860

A decade or so after the California Gold Rush began in the late 1840s, gold was discovered on the South Platte River, near the future city of Denver. As with the earlier strike, this one occasioned disputes over the value and purity of gold dust, as well as great difficulties in getting the precious metal all the way to Philadelphia to be coined there, and shipped back again.

Matters would be greatly simplified if a coiner, either private or public, could set up shop near the gold fields. A good candidate existed — Clark, Gruber & Co. Up to now, the firm had acted as brokers, bankers, and assayers. But if a coinage was wanted, Austin and Milton Clark and Emmanuel Gruber were up to the challenge and had the resources to do it right.

Milton Clark went back East to get the necessary machinery, three lots were purchased in Denver, and a two-story brick building soon went up on the property. Trial strikes of the four denominations to be coined ($2.50, $5, $10, and $20) were ready for inspection by mid-July 1860, and formal coinage began about a week after that.

One of the firm’s most famous products showed a marvelous, if unrealistic, image of Pikes Peak, beneath which Denver — and the Clark, Gruber enterprise — sat. The facility remained in operation through 1862, although all of its coins were dated 1860 and 1861. It was elbowed out of the coining business in April 1863. It turned first into a federal assay office, then 43 years later, into another branch of the United States Mint.
Related Events
1848: Gold is discovered at John Sutter's mill in California.
1849: The United States Department of the Interior is created, largely to manage Western land.
1858: Prospectors discover gold at Cherry Creek, Colorado.
1861: The U.S. Civil War begins when Confederate forces attack Fort Sumter, South Carolina.
1865: The Civil War ends when Confederate armies surrender and Confederate Government collapses.
Golden Legends The following objects are in this section.
Templeton Reid, 10 Dollars, 1830United States, 5 Dollars, 1838Oregon Exchange Company, 5 Dollars, 1849Clark, Gruber & Co., 20 Dollars, 1860
Templeton Reid, 5 Dollars, 1830United States, 2 1/2 Dollars, 1848U.S. Assay Office, 50 Dollars, 1851 
Templeton Reid, 2 1/2 Dollars, 1830United States, 20 Dollars, 1849 (Pattern)Kellogg & Co., 50 Dollars, 1855 
Bechtlers, 5 Dollars, 1834Oregon Exchange Company, 10 Dollars, 1849United States, 50 Dollars, 1877 (Pattern) 
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