Augustus Humbert assay office and branch mint
After gold was discovered in California in 1849, Augustus Humbert was given permission by the government to run an authorized assay office in San Francisco because there was no standard for assaying and turning oar and dust into coins. The majority of Californians wanted an U. S. branch mint instead of just a state assay office because it would be able to produce real coins in smaller denominations. Several bills calling for the formation of a branch mint in California were initiated in the Legislative Council and the US Congress throughout the years 1849 and 1850. Senators William M. Gwin of California and Thomas Hard Benton of Missouri led the charge for this cause in the 31st Congress, advocating for a San Francisco branch mint in numerous speeches and letters. There were at least two explanations given in one of these letters, written on November 20, 1850, to Treasury Secretary Thomas Corwin, for why the government did not immediately open a standard branch mint in San Francisco. The first concern was the California oar that was discovered. The gold content varied from.850 to.925. Federal gold had to be .900, contain no more than .050 silver, while the rest had to be copper. For California gold to meet the federal requirement, parting acids and copper were both necessary. However, these acids could not be produced locally and were difficult to transport via land or via Panama. By adding precise amounts of.999 gold, the California gold was raised to .880, .884, .887, or even .900 gold. The second was the mandate by law that only United States Minting facilities could produce coins. Legal complexities were avoided by referring to the Humbert pieces as ingots and referring to the mint as the U.S. Assay Office. The objects Humbert produced, however, were used as currency. The miners mandated that Humbert submit a monthly report in the same manner as any other branch mint superintendent would do. He received regular coinage dies in 1853 in case he was able to produce legal standard coins.
Benton and Gwin's efforts were thwarted as a result of the New York delegation's insistence that they be granted their very own mint, to which they felt they were just as entitled as any other state. The powerful and envious Pennsylvania delegation fiercely opposed this proposal because they both proposed mints of their own, particularly New York, would pose a threat to their existing Philadelphia mint. The delegates from Louisiana, Georgia, and North Carolina were similarly unimpressed by the prospect of additional competition for the United States branch mints that were located in their respective states. As a result, on September 30th, 1850, a compromise bill was passed that, among other things, called for the establishment of a United States Assay Office in San Francisco. This Office would be given the power to assay gold and then stamp it with the proper seal to demonstrate its value. The California delegation's agreement to the compromise bill came only after they were convinced that a branch mint would in fact be approved for the state of California during the subsequent session of Congress.
A federal Assay Office that could issue ingots worth $50 to $10,000 was established in 1850. "Refined gold, of standardized fineness, and with proper legends and equipment, similar to those found on our smaller coinage with their value noticeably marked and an inscription with "LIBERTY and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," was how they would be made. The denomination was the main distinction between these ingots & conventional coinage. The Assay Office effectively served as a temporary branch mint. Bankers could no longer purchase gold dust for only six to eight dollars per ounce due to Humbert's paying sixteen dollar per ounce including a small manufacturing cost deduction which the bankers could not compete with.
$50 Humbert Gold Slugs
There was production of the $50 Humbert Gold, also known as the Humbert Slug or ingots, and it was given the nickname "Californians" at times. Between the years 1851 and 1853, people were able to use them as currency. On the first printings of the coins, Humbert's name and the phrase "U.S. ASSAYER OF GOLD" were inscribed. On subsequent issues, the phrase " United States Assay Office of Gold " was printed. In point of fact, President Fillmore was the one who monetized them in 1850 when he declared that the issues approved by the Assay Office could be used to pay tariffs.
The Humbert Slugs, which were created by Charles Cushing Wright, were produced as a subcontractor for the Philadelphia Mint. Humbert was the one who made the corrections to the text. Punches for individual words and numbers were made by Georg Kuner. The stamp on the ingots and bars features an eagle with a boastful expression, the traditional American shield resting on a rock that symbolizes the Constitution, it also has an olive branch and arrows placed in its claws.
The Eagle is surrounded by the words "United States of America," just like on U. S. Mint coins. The word "Liberty" is written on a scroll that is held in the eagle's beak and placed right over the bird "Thousandths" and a field for stamping the "degree of fineness" The weight of the ingot, in pennyweights and grams, is written on it without a circle, The phrases "Augustus Humbert United States Assayer of Gold California 1851" are written around the perimeter of the Octagon. on the reverse of an Octagon ingot will feature an embossed pattern resembling the web-like intricate design of the banknote vignette and recognized to mechanics as Engines Turning. The equipment that performs or engraves the Die was indeed the only one available in the United States, and the Die that created this effect cannot be easily duplicated."
The disappearance of nearly all privately minted gold pieces was one effect of the new issues. The majority of these were melted down and made into Humbert $50 slugs. There was a deficiency of coins as a direct result. Humbert could have issued small denominations to satisfy this need, but federal authorities refused to allow Humbert to mint smaller denominations. As a result, foreign coins with inflated values started to circulate. A law was passed by the state legislature allowing private minters to produce coins with small amounts ($5, $10, and $20). As a result, Moffat & Co. started producing coins in those denominations again.
The go-ahead to mint smaller amounts was given to Humbert later in January 1852. A law requiring that all gold pieces adhere to the requirements of federal coins was passed in August 1852, demonstrating political opposition towards this decision. This act's news spread panic. Business has stopped. Because specific acids were unavailable and copper was in short supply, it was impossible to produce coins that were legal fine. There were public protests that nearly descended into riots. Finally, T. Butler King consented to accept .900 Fine Humbert ingots without the necessary copper. Local businesses complied, and Humbert produced $50 .900 Fine slugs. After the Assay Office shut down in December 1853, Humbert's slugs continued to stay in use, once the federal branch mint opened and started using the same machinery as it once did. Federal coins were then reintroduced. On April 15, 1854,