Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Spectacular Spencer Clark Pitcher

    Spencer M. Clark Presentation Pitcher. This wonderful silver pitcher may well be the ultimate Fractional Currency collection association item. On Christmas Day in 1864, the employees of the National Currency Bureau, the institution that would become the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, presented their boss with an 11 ½" tall by 7 ½" wide silver pitcher with the following engraving:

    Presented by The Employees of the National Currency Bureau To Spencer M. Clark Chief of 1st Division as a token of their esteem December 25, 1864

    Spencer M. Clark, who was Superintendent of the National Currency Bureau and later the BEP (1862-1868), was a bit of an eccentric genius. He is best known for placing his own portrait on the Third Issue Five Cent Fractional Currency note. The note was first issued in January of 1865. Whether intended as an actual act of colossal vanity or merely as an insiders' joke, Spencer Clark's self-serving deed brought the wrath of Congress down on both Clark and the Bureau. The Act of April 7, 1866, which prohibited the placing of the portrait of any living person on U.S. currency, was a direct result of Clark's misuse of his authority.
    Earlier in his career, Clark had also gotten his neck in a wringer over his association with Stuart Gwynn, a questionable character who was responsible for supplying both printing presses and bank-note paper to the National Currency Bureau. Both the Treasury Department and Congress investigated Gwynn and his relationship to Clark. The Treasury Department investigation created a 48-page official report submitted to the Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase that detailed various supposed misconducts by Gwynn and Clark. A second report went to Congress (38th Congress, First Session, House of Representatives, Report #140), courtesy of the Treasury Investigating Committee. Both hearings took place in the first half of 1864.
    Somehow, Clark retained his job. And later that year, he was given
    this pitcher by his employees. Our consignor obtained it years ago from his mother-in-law, who had been a next-door neighbor of Clark's descendants, and she had received the pitcher as a gift.
    The bottom of the pitcher indicates that it was made of coin silver by Gorham between 1855 - 1860. Simply as "just another" 1860's silver pitcher, this would be a solid four-figure item. With its direct currency connection, it is of inestimable value to the Fractional Currency community.

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    Calculate Standard Domestic Shipping

    Sales Tax information  |  Terms and Conditions

    Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments

    Glossary of Terms

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2007
    26th-28th Wednesday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 830

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    15% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 27 days left to consign to the 2019 January 9 - 15 FUN World Currency Signature Auction - Orlando !

    Learn about consigning with us

    Thank you for your quick response. I am a member of Heritage Auctions and I am happy to say that it is truly a great platform.
    Mohammed J.,
    Durban, KZ
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2018 September 6 - 10 Long Beach Expo World Currency Signature Auction - Long Beach
    2018 September 6 - 10 Long Beach Expo World Currency Signature Auction - Long Beach
    REALIZED $2,692,790