Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice
Florida United Numismatists (FUN) and New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC) Auctions are rescheduled and have moved to Dallas. Get details.


    A Trio of Incredible California Obsolete Rarities

    Darwin, CA- Defiance Mining Company $3 May 25, 1876
    This note and the two that follow are among the highlights of the C.A. Dolph & Son collection, an assemblage of U.S. currency of all types including Colonials, Obsoletes, Fractionals, Large Size Type Notes and Large Size National Bank Notes that was purchased between 1930 and 1950 and has laid dormant within the family until offered in this sale. Among the most unexpected of treasures were the three California obsolete examples offered in this and the following two lots.
    Darwin was a mining community located in Inyo County, more familiar to non-Californians as Death Valley. It was founded by Darwin French, an early explorer of the region, where in 1874 large deposits of lead and silver were found, making Darwin an overnight boom town. The Defiance Mine became the principal mine of the district, and by the end of 1875 the town boasted two smelters, twenty working mines, 200 frame houses, seventy eight business establishments, and a population of 700, with water shipped in from the nearby Coso Mountains. By 1876 the mines began to play out, with the Defiance furnace shutting down in August of that year, and, by 1878, new strikes in Bodie and Mammoth City prompted the few remaining miners to abandon Darwin. Although mining was revived after another strike in 1907, the town was abandoned after World War II, leaving it the ghost town it is today.
    Until the three notes offered here tonight were unearthed, only one example from this short lived venture was known to exist, with that piece unknown until the sale of the John J. Ford collection of Western Obsoletes in October, 2007. The Ford holdings contained one note from this issuer, an unsigned and unissued remainder $20 which realized $3850 and was immediately re-offered at $8500. The $3 offered here is fully signed and issued, and is date stamped, as are all three pieces from this collection. The date on this note is May 25, 1876.
    Any estimate on this or the other two notes offered from this issuer is simply speculative and, considering the rarity of these items, a total guess, but we suspect that if rarity and desirability are any guide, these wonderful notes will fetch a considerable sum this evening. PMG Choice Fine 15, with one tiny pinhole with a miniscule trace of rust at the upper right corner.
    From the C.A. Dolph and Son Collection

    View all of [The C.A. Dolph & Son Collection ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2010
    17th-21st Thursday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 420

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    15% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

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

    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 30 days left to consign to the 2021 April 14 - 17 Central States World Paper Money Signature Auction - Chicago!

    Learn about consigning with us

    I think heritage is the best auction house and has the best service - that’s why I use you. 
    Sara B.,
    Dubai, UAE
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search