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    Exceedingly Rare and Historic Clark, Gruber & Co. Issued Note Eventual Private Gold Coiner and Paramount in the Formation of the Denver Mint

    Leavenworth, KS - Clark, Gruber & Co. $1 Nov. 1, 1862 KS-47 G2a Whitfield-302. PCGS Very Fine 25 Apparent.
    It is not surprising that many examples of the Midwestern frontier Obsolete banknotes and scrip from the Newman collection are exceptionally historic and of the highest rarity. However, a few should be classified among the giants of the entire Obsolete note canon. We would certainly consider this fully issued Leavenworth emitted Clark, Gruber & Co. $1 note to be one of those titans. Not only is it significant among American paper currency, but it is also relevant to Territorial Private Gold Coinage and the eventual formation of the Denver Mint branch. An example of this type has not been offered at public auction for at least 50 years, and we are aware of only one sold privately several years ago for an impressive (unpublished) five-figure price.

    The American Banknote Company design is beautifully balanced. At the center, under the famous title, hunting dogs are felling an elk. Lower left, a standing Indian princess is shown with a quiver on her back. Lower right, a resting dog guards a safe. The red protector outlines ONE across the bottom; under the left side is a short obligation: "Redeemable only in sums of Five Dollars," and to the right, the note is fully signed by the partnership. It is machine serial numbered 4515. Overall, the appearance is very bright. The Apparent designation is due to minor "Hinge Repaired Edge Tears" seen on the blank back. Haxby did not classify this firm as a "bank," but we differ and have numbered it KS-47 G2a. Apparently, only $1 notes, of two styles, were issued from Leavenworth. The earlier type was a lithographed note printed locally, and used until these engraved notes arrived from New York. We know of only two examples of that temporary, cruder type: the Whitfield plate note; and the former Schingoethe note sold in their sixteenth named auction in January 2009 as lot 169 (the only auction record we can cite). This particular type directly links the founding of the bank and note issuance in Leavenworth to the eventual office in Denver that printed $5 Denver Gold demand notes known as proofs and remainders only (two proofs seen by us and four fully confirmed remainder notes). This fully issued and signed Clark, Gruber & Co. example is much rarer and in our opinion as significant, or more so, than the unissued Denver notes. That Denver office would later become the Denver Mint.

    The background information below is excerpted from the catalog of Selections from the Eric P. Newman Collection Part V:

    The Clark, Gruber & Co. firm was formed as a banking partnership in Leavenworth, Kansas in March of 1859, shortly after the discovery of gold in the region that would later form the state of Colorado (neither Kansas nor Colorado had been admitted to the Union at the time). The principals were brothers Austin M. and Milton Edward Clark, and Emanuel Henry Gruber. The partnership benefited from its relative proximity to the gold fields and purchased large amounts of gold dust from the miners, who found it easier and safer to transport their findings to Leavenworth than to the Philadelphia or San Francisco Mints. The evolution of the Kansas bank into a private mint was outlined by partner E.H. Gruber in an article in the Denver Times in 1904:

    "My firm was one of the heaviest purchasers of gold dust in the early days. And when we bought a large quantity of dust, we had to ship it to the states to have it coined into money. This was a rather expensive proceeding, as there were only stage coaches and pony express reaching this city in those days, and we had to pay 5 percent of the value of the dust as an insurance against loss in transit and another 5 percent expressage. Our dust was out of our hands for anywhere from three weeks to three months, and often times the cash we would have in transit would total nearly $300,000. This was considerable money to have and yet not be able to use for months at a time, so one day the idea struck me that the firm of Clark, Gruber & Co. bankers should also become coiners."


    Consulting with his partner, Milton Clark (who was a lawyer as well as grocer and banker), Gruber determined that there was no legal prohibition against private coinage, as long as the coinage was of full weight and value. The firm purchased the necessary machinery and dies for coining in New York and Philadelphia, and purchased three lots in Denver City to build their new facility by January of 1860. The firm opened its new mint, which was one of the sights of Denver, on July 10 1860; the building was not completed until six days later, and the first coinage was accomplished on July 20.

    Clark, Gruber & Co. was scrupulously honest in its coinage operations and the firm established a reputation that was second-to-none in the private coinage industry. Their coins, issued in two and a half, five, ten, and twenty dollar denominations, were well-executed and widely received at par, as their intrinsic value was slightly in excess of the face value. The firm operated as a private mint during much of 1860 and 1861, issuing a total of $594,305 in gold coins during that time period. No 1862-dated coins are known, but the firm reportedly issued gold bars that year. Shortly afterward, the firm sold its operations to the United States government, as the precursor of the Denver Mint.

    This is a remarkable and historically significant American paper currency note. The unprecedented opportunity to bid on this treasure will be seized by the visionary collector who seeks only the finest.

    Ex: Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.




    View all of [Selections From The Eric. P. Newman Collection, Part VI a. ]

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    Auction Dates
    April, 2015
    22nd-28th Wednesday-Tuesday
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    Truth Seeker: The Life of Eric P. Newman (softcover)
    A powerful and intimidating dealer of the 1960s, backed by important colleagues, was accused of selling fraudulent gold coins and ingots to unsuspecting numismatists. Who would go up against a man like that and, over the course of decades, prove the fraud? Who would expose a widely respected scholar as a thief, then doggedly pursue recovery of coins that the scholar had stolen from an embarrassed numismatic organization, all over the objections of influential collectors who had bought coins with clouded titles? Eric P. Newman would - and did. Reserve your copy today.
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