Sunday, December 28, 2014

Mint Of The United States At San Francisco Ingots - Timeline Part II

Based on my research over the past few years, I believe the following presentation represents the chronological order of 5 oz class ingots produced by the Mint Of The United States At San Francisco from the early 1930's through 1959. It also represents all types known to date (5 oz class only). 

A few placements are scientific; the Type I, large font, 999.75 fine ingots are found in M.H. Bolender coin auction catalogs from the early to mid 1930's. I place them first as I have found no earlier references anywhere to Mint of The United States At San Francisco silver ingots. One U.S. Mint Service Bar Delivery Receipt exists in my collection showing that some of the Type I, small font, 999.75 curved stem nine ingots were produced in December of 1942; this provides another scientific placement in the order. Type II, #217, is in numerical sequence ahead of ingots dated 1956, a third scientific placement. And finally the ingots stamped with 1959 hallmarks.

Type I, medium font ingots I place in the order to fit between the earliest produced and those know to have been produced in the early 1940's, and use numerical sequencing as well as fineness consistency to place the straight stem nine ingots before of the curved stem nine ingots.  

The remainder of Type I, small font ingots are placed in the order using the same numerical and fineness characteristics. The #1093, Type I, small font ingot with straight stem nines is an anomaly as it is one of a kind so I have placed in in the transition position from numbered to unnumbered ingots given the fineness match of 999.5.

I have previously written about my theory of the unnumbered ingots bridging the gap between all of those above and the 1959 round dated hallmark ingots. In the presentation that follows on the second slide, the ingot castings and fineness are identical between the Type I, Type II and 1959, lending support to this bridge theory.

This remains a work in progress; I cautiously introduced this post with "I believe". Something may be discovered in 2015 that completely shakes this up and I look forward to any new discovery that helps document the history of these historical gems.

Silver Ingots

Monday, December 22, 2014

Happy Holidays 2014

Happy Holidays to all Silver Ingots Blog followers and readers. My thanks to all of you for your support and continued interest throughout 2014. I hope you enjoy this holiday season with your families and friends.

Silver Ingots

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Mint Of The United States At San Francisco Type I Ingots - Part X

Just over one year ago this month I published my first post about the very earliest silver government ingot references in old coin auction catalogs. At that time, I had just finished researching a box of 30's and 40's auction catalogs from Bryce Brown's Coin Auction Catalogs and published a spreadsheet showing how these catalog descriptions supported my position that the Mint Of The United States At San Francisco Type I oval hallmark, large font, curved stem nine ingots were the very first to have been produced and date to the early 1930's.

I noted in that post that the very oldest catalog description in the 100th Auction Sale of M.H. Bolender dated November 30, 1935 references previous auction listings of similar ingots, but I have yet to find those catalogs. What I have been able to find over the past year are two additional examples of these very oldest Mint Of The United States At San Francisco silver ingots, bringing to three the total of these lowest digit examples in my collection.  

Based on my research to date, I believe these three examples to be the oldest silver ingots produced at the Mint Of The United States At San Francisco with ingot #77 being the lowest number I have ever seen and therefore the oldest of all examples.

I've updated the original spreadsheet, gray entries are ingots in my collection, yellow highlighted entries are those found in the early coin auction catalogs mentioned above and the remainder are those that I have seen in my ongoing research of information dating back to 1980. Interestingly, I have seen none of the examples in the post 1980 information that are part of the 30's and 40's coin auction catalog listings (yet).

Silver Ingots

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

U.S. Assay Office New York Ingots Part IV

Just a quick note for this week's post, Julie and I are heading out of town to spend Thanksgiving with friends in Florida. Half way through my U.S. Assay Office New York ingots; we will cover the 43.00 ozs ingot and 110.05 ozs ingot in upcoming posts.

A special thanks to Edward A for continuing to work with me to acquire government ingots from his collection that he has decided to part with. The 1928 U.S. Assay Office New York ingot #2894, 43.00 ozs and melt #20 is the latest to make its way from Edward's to my collection.  

I hope everyone has the opportunity to spend time with family and friends this week and enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday.

Silver Ingots

Friday, November 21, 2014

U.S. Assay Office New York Ingots Part III

Staying with the U.S. Assay Office New York ingots again this week, a closer look at my 1920 U.S. Assay Office New York ingot #182, 6.61 ozs and melt #653. (photo enlarged)

I have not seen this particular eagle vignette on any other U.S. Assay Office New York ingot, in silver or gold. I have been looking specifically at this for some time now and continue to research it. Without examples from every year, precise vignette tracking is not scientific but I am working on a hallmark timeline that should be completed in the near future.

Most U.S. Assay Office New York silver ingots fall into categories of 40 oz or 100 oz. Extremely rare in any weight, the smaller U. S. Assay Office New York silver ingots are by far the most rare. At 6.61 ozs, my 1920 #182 represents one of, if not the finest of these smaller rarities.

Standard government placement of the ingot identification; the ingot number 182 on the leading edge facing and the melt number 653 on the top edge facing. 

And the reverse with very interesting pour rings and some black markings that do not appear to be relative to any of the production stamping.

Silver Ingots

Thursday, November 13, 2014

U.S. Assay Office New York Part III

The pages below are from two different Scientific Americans published shortly after my 1892 U.S. Assay Office New York ingot #10, 8.93 ozs and melt #682 was produced at this very location. 

First, from February 15, 1902, the cover photographs depict the assaying of both gold and silver at the New York Assay Office. 

The #1 photograph is the weighing room, #2 melting gold bullion; #3 pressing the assay sample; #4 muffle furnaces for fire assay; #5 humid assay for silver; and #6 extracting the silver with boiling acid. 

The article written to follow the cover above discusses the assaying process in great detail and notes that a follow up article is forthcoming that will discuss refining. To my surprise, I have been able to find that article as well. 

Published on March 15, 1902, the follow up article describes the melting and refining processes. The #1 photograph is the stamping $8,000 gold bars with fineness, weight and value; #2 concentrating the silver solution and precipitating the silver; #3 separating the gold from the silver by boiling with Sulfuric acid; #4 stamping value, weight and fineness on silver bars; and #5 pressing precipitated silver into "cheeses".

The gentleman at the desk in the #1 photograph is identified as Mr. B. T. Martin, New York Assay Office Chief Melter and Refiner. The article says he worked there since 1850 and became Chief Melter and Refiner in 1883. This is awesome, just think, a photograph of the guy in charge when my 1892 U.S. Assay Office New York ingot #10, 8.93 ozs and melt #682 was produced. Maybe he stamped it sitting there at that very desk? Most likely he knew who AGB was! (the initials on the reverse)

Silver Ingots

Thursday, November 6, 2014

U.S. Assay Office New York Ingots Part II

As promised, a closer look at my 1892 U.S. Assay Office New York ingot #10, 8.93 ozs and melt #682. 

Added to some possible wear, the irregularities of the obverse surface have resulted in less than a full strike of the year. Without close examination, there are two possibilities of the actual date, 1892 or 1902, as the first and last digits leave no question. Upon close inspection, the circular closure that can be seen of the top loop on the second digit, on both the left and right sides, leaves no question that is an eight and not a nine. The top of the third digit appears to begin to close on the left side ever so slightly but just enough to confirm that it is a nine rather than a zero.   

The following represent standard placement of other markings, the weight of 8.93 ozs is on the right side facing. 

The ingot number 10 is on the leading edge facing and the melt number 682 on the top edge facing.

The reverse is marked with "AGB".

I have been researching various historical New York documents from the period, trying to find a prominent name to match the initials "AGB". My focus has been in banking and finance but if you Google "AGB New York 1892", the page will fill with articles and photographs of Alexander Graham Bell in New York City, placing the inaugural long distance phone call to Chicago on October 18, 1892. Mark V and I have discussed this and while I agree it is unlikely that Alexander Graham Bell is the "AGB" on the ingot, I'm just saying............. Actually, if anyone has any ideas about the initials, please let me know, thanks.

Silver Ingots

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mint Of The United States At San Francisco Tour


Julie and I are enjoying a week in San Francisco and I had an opportunity to tour the Old Mint building over the weekend with the San Francisco Museum & Historical Society. Given the fact that this building was used until sometime in 1937, at least the very first series of Type I ingots had to be produced here.

The building itself remains a magnificent landmark but has recently become the focus of a legal battle between historical societies vying for control as well as responsibility for  improvement plans and future use.

The north side courtyard and entry are presently being used for building access.

The lower level mainly consists of vault rooms with many older vault doors remaining intact like the first one on the left. While much has been restored to original condition, electrical lighting and of course, life safety components, have been added over the years.

Original construction design techniques included both security as well as earthquake protection. Massive 4' thick stone and masonry walls are used throughout the lower level.

Remnants of original gas lighting controls can be seen throughout the building. The bank of valves below was one of the main lighting control centers.

The main level has also been restored as close to original as could be determined. The small black objects along the ceiling line are original gas light fixtures.

The room below is one of the two identical original assay offices. Across the hall from each other, one served as receiving for precious metals and the other for payout after assaying and evaluation were complete. These rooms have been restored wonderfully, down to matching the original paint colors.
The upper portions of the assay offices are perimeter walkways where armed guards mantained watch over operations below.

A neat experience spending time in the Old Mint and thinking about standing where people dropped off scrap silver and came back for the ingots I now treasure.
Silver Ingots

Friday, October 3, 2014

U.S. Assay Office New York Ingots Part I

My 1892 U.S. Assay Office New York ingot #10, 8.93 ozs and melt #682, acquired at the Chicago ANA Heritage auction, has quickly become my most prized ingot. The more I research and study it, the more amazing I find it to be.


As with other government ingots from the U.S. Mint Philadelphia and Mint Of The United States At San Francisco that I collect and write about, my research has included searching major auction firm archives including among others, Goldberg, Heritage, Holabird-Kagin and Stack's Bowers, which provide information back to the early 2000's. I also looked at eBay completed listings and obtained information from a number of fellow collectors and dealers; all of this to account for as many U.S. Assay Office New York examples as possible. This research has resulted in seeing many more U.S. Assay Office New York ingots of gold than silver. 

Of the U.S. Assay Office New York silver ingots, there are three major categories; 40 oz class, 100 oz class and 1000 oz class. 40 oz class ingots are the most common that I have found. So far I have seen dates ranging from 1908 to the late 1950's. Of these, interestingly, I have seen a total of eight from 1949, all with the same melt #1. 100 oz class ingots are the least common of the three categories with dates from the 1960's and 1980's. 1000 oz class ingots fall in between in commonality with dates from the mid 1950's to the mid 1980's. (Remember that this is only what I have been able to find to date using the research tools above)

Not that those discussed above are not rare, the grand total of all that I have seen is less than thirty five, but the standout U.S. Assay Office New York silver ingots are those that fall outside of these three categories. I know of one 200 oz class ingot dated 1966. I have seen photos of two small 1909 ingots, one is pictured on the flyer in my post last week and I have read an auction listing without photo of a 1919 small ingot. In addition to these standouts, there are the two from my collection, the 1892 above and the 1920 ingot #182, 6.61 ozs and melt #653.

We will look at each of these ingots individually in upcoming posts.

Silver Ingots



Thursday, September 25, 2014

1960's Silver Ingot Flyer

1960's flyer by Gerow Paul Franklin, used in his never ending effort to acquire ingots and other numismatic materials. Thanks to his son Paul, I know that this represents an ensemble of ingots that remained in his father's personal collection until the time of his passing and even though all were sold in auctions years ago, one has now made its way into my collection by way of Kansas City and Edward A.

Very few 5 oz class 1959 U.S. Mint San Francisco ingots are marked with the weight, and adding to the uniqueness of this ingot, it is from lot number of 40. All other 1959 U.S. Mint San Francisco ingots I have seen to date, 5 oz class as well as larger, have been from lot numbers 37, 38 or 39.
Silver Ingots

Sunday, September 21, 2014

U.S. Assay Office New York Part II

While researching my recently acquired 1892 U.S. Assay Office New York silver ingot, I came across the photo below for sale and could not pass it up. From The Illustrated American, April 22, 1893, a view of Wall Street and The U.S. Assay Office, the first building on the right at No. 30 Wall Street. 

The building in the photo was constructed in 1823. By the Act of March 3, 1853, the U.S. Assay Office New York was formed and opened at No 30 Wall Street in 1854. This building served until 1900 when it was replaced.

I find it amazing that the ingot above remains from precisely the time in history captured in the photo below.

Silver Ingots

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mint Of The United States At San Francisco Type II Ingots Part IX - Unique Examples

This represents the very first time I have seen the round hallmark from the U.S. Mint San Francisco without a date; all others have been dated with 1956, 1958, 1959 or 1960. Thanks once again to Tammie at AU Capital Management for this unique acquisition. While there is visibly some surface marking in the area where the date is normally located, even under close loop inspection there is no evidence of any numeral.

Adding to the uniqueness of this ingot's hallmark is the loaf shape; that is a first as well. The only other totally unique shape I have seen to date is the Mint Of The United States At San Francisco "Cube" ingot. I had a chance to personally inspect it at the CyberCoins table at ANA and talk in length to Blaine about it. Both the "Cube" and now the "Loaf" represent one of a kind findings to date.   

Besides the undated hallmark and "999.5 FINE" shown in the photo above, there are no other markings on the "Loaf" except the weight on the right side face from the obverse.

More to come on the U.S. Mint San Francisco "Loaf".

Silver Ingots

Friday, September 5, 2014

U.S. Mint New Orleans

While studying my 1892 U.S. Assay Office New York ingot at the ANA in Chicago with Fred H, he mentioned that he had handled a silver ingot from the U.S. Mint New Orleans that dated back to 1879. Fred had worked to ultimately place the ingot in the U.S. Mint New Orleans Museum which is now the Louisiana State Museum. Fred's familiarity with the U.S. Mint New Orleans ingot, and its placement, were what led to our determination that the 1892 U.S. Assay Office New York ingot equals the oldest silver government ingot known in private hands.

The U.S. Mint New Orleans was built in 1835 and conducted United States coinage operations from 1837 until 1861 when Louisiana seceded from the Union.The Mint remained closed throughout the Civil War and Reconstruction period, reopening and once again producing United States coinage in 1879.

According to the Louisiana State Museum, (with the help of Fred's original research) this ingot is "one of a kind and was most likely created as a presentation piece for the reopening of the New Orleans Mint after the Civil War in 1879". 

I appreciate the assistance of Polly R-S, Curator of the Louisiana State Museum, in providing me with the photo that follows along with information on this amazing historical ingot. 

Courtesy of the Collections of the Louisiana State Museum

Silver Ingots

Monday, September 1, 2014

U. S. Mint Philadelphia Ingots - Hallmarks

Three different hallmarks can be found on U.S. Mint Philadelphia silver ingots. As I noted in the last post about U.S. Mint Philadelphia, all three are used without apparent pattern (yet) throughout the silver ingot run of 1946. The second hallmark is not from my collection and I have not yet found a better quality photograph to copy. 

While similarities of the eagle vignette can be found between the second and third hallmarks on silver ingots from Philadelphia, New York and San Francisco, the first hallmark is unique to Philadelphia. It is interesting that that while all U.S. Mint Philadelphia ingots are dated 1946 (one 1956 exception as noted previously), the vignettes on the second and third hallmark appear to be out of date range with other government mint and assay offices.

Based on government ingots that I have studied to date, the eagle vignette on the second hallmark first appears on U.S. Assay Office New York silver ingots in 1909 and runs through at least 1949. It was not used by the Mint Of The United States At San Francisco silver ingots.

The eagle vignette on the third hallmark first appears on Mint Of The United States At San Francisco silver ingots in 1956 and runs through 1960. The very same eagle vignette appears on U.S. Assay Office New York silver ingots in 1957 and runs through 1984. The use of this particular eagle vignette on U.S. Mint Philadelphia silver ingots in 1946 predates all other government mint and assay offices by ten years.

U.S. Mint Philadelphia 1946

U.S. Mint Philadelphia 1946

U.S. Mint Philadelphia 1946 & 1956

Anyone with any information on U.S. Mint Philadelphia silver ingots, please let me know.

Silver Ingots

Saturday, August 23, 2014

U. S. Assay Office New York

A few weeks ago I wrote about redemption of Silver Certificates at The United States Assay Office At San Francisco. I received a few emails and had a number of conversations in Chicago at the ANA about the redemption process; it was especially interesting to talk to Ron G who personally participated in the redemption of hundreds of thousands of Silver Certificates.  

The date of June 24, 1968 was questioned as some seem to remember the redemption program lasting longer than that. I was researching this upon my return and came across the photos below from the August 2, 1968 LIFE MAGAZINE of the US Assay Office New York. 

Interesting photos on the first page but look at that line on the second page! The photo is dated June 23, 1968 and captioned as "the day before the final deadline" for redeeming Silver Certificates.

The article is an interesting read about the evolution of currency with intrinsic value to an age of representative money but the ending caption sums it all up, 'money now is worth only what you can buy with it"!

Anyone interested in the entire article let me know and I will email a PDF.

Silver Ingots

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Silver Ingots 100th Post & 15,000 Pageviews

On February 17, 2013, I published the first Silver Ingots post; a year and a half and 100 posts later, Silver Ingots has received over 15,000 pageviewsThe Silver Ingots blog has opened up numerous doors of opportunity for new acquaintances, ingot acquisitions and research information. I am honored that my writings about silver ingots have been met with such interest and sincerely thank all of my blog  followers and readers for their support.   

Julie and I are just back from the ANA's World's Fair of Money in Chicago and I especially enjoyed finally meeting in person, quite a few of those "acquaintances" that I have come to know over the past year and a half through phone calls and emails. The highlight of the trip for me was being the successful bidder in the Heritage auction on the 1892 US Assay Office New York silver ingot below.  

I had a chance to have Fred H examine it on Friday and we believe it to be the oldest government issued silver ingot in private hands. Fred noted that years ago, he saw an old black and white photo of a similar ingot so there is most likely at least one other of similar age. Watch for more to come on this in a future post.

Thanks again for your interest and support.

Silver Ingots

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

United States Assay Office At San Francisco Ingots - Hallmark

In 1962 the status of the Mint Of The United States At San Francisco was officially changed from mint to an assay office. The United States Assay Office At San Francisco operated until March 31, 1988 when its mint status was restored.

The last hallmarked silver ingots produced at San Francisco bear the United States Assay Office At San Francisco hallmark, shown in enlarged format for magnification of details.  

USAO At San Francisco Hallmark 1962 through mid to late 1960's

The United States Assay Office At San Francisco was a primary location for redemption of Silver Certificates. As of March, 1964, redemption of Silver Certificates for silver dollars was terminated and until June 24, 1968 redemption of Silver Certificates was in silver bars and silver granules or shavings. 

To date, I have encountered two gentlemen that participated in the Silver Certificate redemption program. Buz T tells me that in 1965 he stopped by the Assay Office and exchanged Silver Certificates for two silver bars and a bag of silver shavings.  The bars had no stampings other than serial numbers; the weight was marked in grease pencil. Recently Ron G wrote in Coin World that he redeemed Silver Certificates in 1966 and 1967 and the bars he received had no markings at all, not even serial numbers; the weight was marked in grease pencil.

At the other end of the spectrum, Tom P has a bar with the USAO hallmark, fineness and weight all stamped on it. The one from my collection pictured below has only the USAO hallmark and fineness. The black smear could possibly be the remnants of the 103.22 ozs weight marked in grease pencil.

Clearly these USAO bars were produced in a variety of styles and I will continue to research them, BUT one possible scenario is that as the Silver Certificate exchange program picked up the demand on silver bar production did as well and less time was available to apply all of the original markings. The later the production, the less markings until ultimately, no time was spent marking the bars other than with the weight in grease pencil until the redemption program was terminated in 1968. That would certainly hold up between the two dated transactions reported above; a possibility that remains to be researched further. 

Silver Ingots