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Updated: June 6, 2013 14:36 IST

A coin that conjures up California Gold Rush

Vasudha Venugopal
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About a month ago, the Government Museum Egmore acquired a rare gold coin from the Pudukottai government museum that houses the coin collection of the Tondaiman kings, who once ruled Pudukottai. The coin which has an image of an eagle and legend on the obverse side, is on display as part of the ‘Exhibit of the Week,' programme at the museum here.

Download California Gold Rush (PDF)

Explaining the history of the coin, N. Sundararajan, curator, Numismatics gallery, said that it was minted by Augustus Humbert at the United States Assay Office in San Francisco. It is one of the ‘territorial coins,' minted during the California Gold Rush that began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California.

This discovery sparked off a major migration that continued for almost seven years as people from different parts of America and many parts of the world flocked to the state from Oregon, Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), and Latin America.

The coin represents what many would consider one of the most fascinating and vibrant periods of California's history, says Mr.Sundararajan.

Another highlight of the coin, he adds, is the way the spiral decorates the reverse. “Mr. Humbert, who minted the coin, was a watchmaker before he took up work as an assayer,” he said.

S.S. Jawahar, Commissioner of Museums, participated in the inauguration of the exhibition.


Vasudha VenugopalJune 28, 2012

Silicon Valley (Dublin California; oh yah we are in the east bay after all!) is our home from the so called 2nd gold rush era circa 1995; Yes the dotcom times. Living here and bringing up the kids made us also travel with them to the real gold rush land taking the highway 49 close to our schools. In fact we did pan the sands for $3 a piece to see our luck if we can find piece of Au off the periodic table! Seldom did we see luck strike the bunch of us who were visitors those days; but we did learn the life style that was then and the hardships the 49ers had to go through to strike it rich! Happy to see the gold-coin in the little one’s hands, my little one picked up a teeny-weeny souvenir bottle from the souvenir shop for $5 with a few specs of the commodity the gold-rush was after; yes the kids were happy that their gold rush was satisfied after all!

from:  Raj S Ram
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 23:59 IST
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