Golden Present
COINage Magazine|December 2020 - January 2021
Memories of Gold Dollars for the Holidays
R.W. JULIAN

When I was growing up in the early 1940s, my maternal grandfather gave me a silver dollar each Christmas.I still have these, in memory of him. When I was a teenager, and after my grandfather had died, I made inquiries among my older cousins if they had been treated the same. The answer was yes, and no.

In fact, the older cousins had bee gi each Christmas a silver dollar, but before 1933 — when gold was call in — they had been presented with a gold dollar. I saw several of these coins, one cousin having more than a dozen of them. It was a pleasant tradition, one that can never again happen. In the 1950s, I made inquiries among older neighbors, and they too had been given gold dollars at Christmas before 1933. Othe s had been given silver dollars, indicating how widespread a dollar coin’s practice at Christmas had been.

HISTORIC ACCIDENT BRINGS HAPPINESS

Little known outside collecting circles today, in some ways, the gold dollar of 1849–1889 was a historical accident, something that never should have been. Even though the public used it for a few years in the 1850s, after that time, it was rarely seen and served mainly as presents to friends and relatives.

The immediate cause of this curious little coin was the California Gold Rush of 1848–1849. Many men dreamed of making their fortunes in far-off California, and by the tens of thousands, they abandoned jobs and families t h d f El Dorado. And some of this came from the area surrounding t city of Charlotte in North Carolina.

As early as 1838, the United States Branch Mint at Charlotte had begun to strike gold coins for the country’s southeastern region. Unfortunately, this branch’s existence was at best tenuous because many of the placer mines in that area had begun to play out, and there were not enough diggings to support the local mint. By the late 1840s, Charlotte's very existence was a topic o ate. Thus, when many local miners he added West, there was something approaching panic at the Charlotte Mint. A lack of miners clearly meant that even less gold would be deposited for coinage; moreover, some saw its retention as a matter of civic pride. Moreover, Mint Director Robert Maskell Patterson had already made more than one effort to abolish this mint.

To find a solution to this problem, Charlotte’s city leaders met with Congressman James McKay. Many of the participants in these discussions knew that the Bechtlers, who had struck private gold coins nearby, had made gold dollars as late as the early 1840s, and some of these pieces were still circulating. If the Charlotte Mint were to regularly strike such coins, then the available bullion would stretch much further.

McKay agreed with Charlotte officials and presented a bill to the House of Representatives authorizing the production of gold dollars. This decision may seem to be nothing more than an early pork-barrel project, but such was not exactly the case. The sudden availability of gold had created an imbalance in the United States’ monetary system. Silver was suddenly worth more than its face value as coinage, the result being that bullion dealers bought up the silver for melting and shipment to Europe. By the early 1850s, there were serious shortages of silver coins in the marketplace. Both business owners and the public were demanding that something is done about the problem.

McKay duly introduced his bill into the House of Representatives in January 1849, and at first, there was a limited measure of support. However, despite the silver problem, Mint Director Robert Patterson saw the whole matter for exactly what it was, nothing more than an attempt to perpetuate the existence of a mint that he wished to abolish.

SILVER SHORTAGE PROMPTS GREATER EYES ON GOLD

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM COINAGE MAGAZINEView All

New Protection and Solid Advice in the Fight Against Counterfeit Coins Trending

PCGS Announces Groundbreaking NFC Technology Included in all Holders

6 mins read
COINage Magazine
December 2020 - January 2021

Great Coin Finds of a Lifetime

Coin Hunts Can Make Any Day a Holiday

5 mins read
COINage Magazine
December 2020 - January 2021

Golden Present

Memories of Gold Dollars for the Holidays

9 mins read
COINage Magazine
December 2020 - January 2021

Going From $1 To $10 Million

How Research and Marketing Led To Numismatic Records

2 mins read
COINage Magazine
December 2020 - January 2021

ALL-STAR RARITIES LINEUP

Dreams for Every Collector and Investor

10+ mins read
COINage Magazine
December 2020 - January 2021

COPPER

Part of a Yuletide Tradition

10 mins read
COINage Magazine
December 2020 - January 2021

COMPLETE HOLIDAY COIN Gift Guide

EVERYTHING FOR THE 2020-2021 SEASON

10+ mins read
COINage Magazine
December 2020 - January 2021

$2,100 Gold Target

U.S. MINT’S GOLD EAGLE SALES ROSE 383% IN 2020

4 mins read
COINage Magazine
December 2020 - January 2021

U.S. MINT BULLION SALES SKYROCKETED 2,000%

GOLD ROSE TO OVER $ 2,074 PER TROY OUNCE IN AUGUST 2020

4 mins read
COINage Magazine
October - November 2020

Hot On the Heels of Coin Dealers Peddling Fakes; Rare Coin Market Weathering Pandemic Well

Acting on a tip from the Anti- Counterfeiting Educational Foundation (www.ACEFonline. org), federal and local California law enforcement agents now are investigating the attempted sale of $400,000 of counterfeit coins including a fake example of the historic 1879 Coiled Hair gold $4 “Stella” that brought $300,000 at auction last year. The seller also is a suspect in an earlier case involving fakes, according to Doug Davis, director of the ACEF Anti- Counterfeiting Task Force (ACTF).

5 mins read
COINage Magazine
October - November 2020
RELATED STORIES

CAMELOT

“The editor at The Baltimore Guide called and said President Kennedy was coming from Washington to give a speech at the armory,” recalls Tom Scilipoti. “He said he was flying in by helicopter and was going to land at Patterson Park and asked if I’d be interested in shooting it. I said, ‘Hell, yeah.’”

3 mins read
Baltimore magazine
January 2021

A DIAGNOSIS OF CHARLOTTE'S COVID ECONOMY

Business Alliance digests data that illustrates how virus has swamped commerce

3 mins read
Charlotte Magazine
December 2020

Forbidden Planet, Forgotten History

In 1956, the movie that redefined science fiction cinema premiered in uptown Charlotte

5 mins read
Charlotte Magazine
December 2020

CHARLOTTEANS OF THE YEAR

More than any year before it, 2020 made demands of us. Our nine Charlotteans of the Year responded by breaking through boundaries. A doctor informed a confused, frightened public. A globally recognized superstar stepped out, finally, on racial injustice. Here are their stories, and ours.

10+ mins read
Charlotte Magazine
December 2020

Blessings, Interrupted

Social service agencies struggle to adapt to the disconnected world of COVID

3 mins read
Charlotte Magazine
December 2020

COMMUNITY DINNER RESERVATIONS

Jim Noble is one of this city’s most successful, innovative, and philanthropic restaurant owners—and a lot of people in ever-changing Charlotte won’t set foot in his eateries

10 mins read
Charlotte Magazine
January 2021

Alessandra Ball James

Longtime Charlotte Ballet dancer pirouettes to new career amid COVID

4 mins read
Charlotte Magazine
January 2021

BUILDING HISTORY - What Uptown's Treloar House Teaches Us

That old, brick building across from ImaginOn embodied ideas whose time has come again

4 mins read
Charlotte Magazine
January 2021

Denise Antonacci

SouthPark’s hair bigwig takes time with your tresses and care with your privacy

2 mins read
Charlotte Magazine
January 2021

A DINING SCENE, BAGGED

A year ago, no one expected Charlotte’s diversifying roster of restaurants to specialize in takeout, but COVID forced a hard turn. Here’s a list of 25 restaurants that survived the switch—and which dishes to take home

10+ mins read
Charlotte Magazine
January 2021