Clarck Gruber 20 Dollar Gold Piece

The Colorado Gold Rush & Its Coins

Colorado Gold Rush

It had been nine years since James Marshall discovered gold at the sutter's mill in 1847. At this point California was doing very good for itself with its three year old mint. While this was going on the mormons were starting to get well established and the organ was soon to become its own state. Before the 19th century could even start trappers and fur trappers spoke of gold in colorado. The first report of this was by James Purcell in 1807 but his claims were swept under the rug and paid no attention and were not taken seriously until almost 50 year later. Gold was actually found in 1852 at Ralston Creek; other discoveries of gold started to pop up in that area around that same year. It wasn't until 1857 that the news of these gold findings reched the east. After finding small traces to gold in the charry river the citizens of Lawrence formed a prospecting company leading them to proceed along the Arkansas River with them stopping to camp at what is now known today as the colorado springs they stayed there until 1858. While this was all happening other companies were forming to take advantage of this newly found gold. In June the parties combined, creating a group of 104 experienced gold miners and Cherokee indians. After not finding lots of gold many Cherokee and some miners ended up leaving. With only 13 remaining on the team they all left on july 6 moving more towards the south where they ended up finding a good amount of gold something like $10 a day for every man. It was on august 26 1858 that they got news of a major finding of gold in colorado after hearing this Lawrence party headed up north to try and take advantage of this opportunity. Not all of the early prospectors where successful by 1859 1,000 to 1,200 had left the aria because of no luck with finding gold. Colorado gold was reported to have some of the purest gold in the world. This being the finest gold found it came out to be $20 an ounce in today's money that would be around $648. With this new found gold pioneers started to flow in starting settlements in Cherry Creek and Gregory Gulch do to this influx of new people it became necessary to have a form of government in the towns but the Government had no federal officers to spear this lead them to elect their own government creating the Territory of Jefferson later known as the Colorado Territory. With this new area came new challenges: scarcity of food, shortage of housing and no law enforcement. If you wanted to buy anything new you would have to travel to denver city and there he could trade or pay for supplies as mining increased so did the use of gold dust as currency in the aria. Although it sounds smart to use gold dust as a form of currency in reality it was very inafition and wistful. They ended up having to ship their gold to the Philadelphia mint for it to be melted down and made into coins for them to be used. The problem was that it was costly to ship the gold to Philadelphia to make the dust minted; it was obvious that a local minting operation needed to be put in place.


Clark, Gruber & Co.

Although not the only mint to spring up to solve the gold dust problem it soon became the most reputable and trustworthy. In its time it acted as a bank and mint with a bratch off office in Central City, Colorado, and Salt Lake City, Utah it maintained a high reputation and high integrity. Starting from a bank it turned into one of the most prolific private coin dealers in Colorado operating for 24h for 2years and had very little complaints in their time open until they were bought by the US Government in 1863. Milton Edwards and his brother Austin M. Clark was born in Brown County located in Ohio. The word of gold being discovered in colorado reached the city of Kansas in 1857 at the time the two brothers had a successful wholesales business going on as grocers dealing with commodities like fish, corn, sugar, tea, and tobacco selling to the towns 10,000 occupancy also selling to Fort Leavenworth located just a few miles away. When the full extent of the gold rush was going on in January 1858 the clarks were able to profit immensely from this from selling supplies to the prospective miners. While doing this they were in the opertun position to learn about the newest gold discoveries and the new development of towns like Denver City and Auraria. In March of 1858 they decided to form a bank and partnership with Emanuel Henry Gruber. Gruber was able to acquire some experience in the banking business as a cashier at McLelland and company in St. Louis. This match with Milton Clarks legal background made it so that they could start their new business on a confident basis. On March 8 1859 the Leavenworth Daily Time announced that there was a new banking house and that it was being run by a reliable and solid base with the advertisement in the paper saying they would exchange gold dust. As time went on Clark, Gruber & Co became big buyers of gold dust as well as receiving it in considerable amounts at their wholesales shop. The gold dust would be brought to them in bottles and pouches and then shipped off to the US Mint in Philadelphia to be melted and made into coins. The problem with this was they were spending too much money on sending the dust to be made into coins and on top of that a large amount of their money would be gone while being transported. Eventually the idea stuck them to just start minting their own coin after making sure it would be legal in the government's eyes. The Clark, Gruber & Co Mint was constructed in 1860 and still stands to this day on sixteenth and market street. They traveled to Philadelphia and New York to buy the equipment needed to make their coins. It was officially announced in Rocky Mountain News on April 4, 1860 that they where ready to start production of coin and that they have returned from their trip to gather the machinery needed to make the coin they immediately stated the construction of the mint to start rolling out there new coin.on July 11 the editor announced that they where ready to start production and that he had learned that they have already started to coin gold the editor then went of about how he had seen one and described the coin in great detail. Around the middle of august the company was pulling in $2,000 of gold dust a day and during the end of august 28 the mint had made $18,000 with coins split up between $10, $5, $2.50 pieces. The coins were so good that they out weighed the US coin at the time in gold. In their first three months Clark, Gruber & Co was able to coin $120,000 in coins with their machines working day and night. There's no wonder. You would give them the gold dust and they would pay you back in either their gold coins or draft checks. The company would also release gold prices regularly to all the different districts. Once the snow melted and the miners went back to the mines the Clark, Gruber & Co company would start buying gold dust in large quantities again this time with a more durable coin so that the coin wouldn't lose value over time due to wear on the coin and gold getting lost. No one really knows when they stopped releasing coins but it was around the time the company started releasing gold bars. They did say that in 1862 they started to make small gold bars instead of coins; due to the war it was easier for them to get a cash value for the bars as opposed to the coins. Although hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of these bars were made, none are known of today probably because the company stopped sales of them after they sold the mint to the US government. During the time that Clark, Gruber & Co mint was open it issued a total of $594,305 worth of coins during their time open they stayed a reliable and trustworthy bank having their coins never questioned.

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