There are only a dozen grading events by PCGS for Templeton Reid quarter eagles in all grades. The number of different pieces is likely considerabley fewer. This is the second finest they have seen, nudged out from the top position by a single coin that grades Mint State-60. The obverse design is a simple affair with T. REID above, 2.50 at the center and ASSAYER. below. For the reverse design a broad dentilated rim is noted, with GEORGIA GOLD around and 1830 at the center. The surfaces show minimal marks and are quite pleasing to examine. Strong eye appeal, surface quality and handsome orange-gold color prevails on this majestic and historic coin.< This is one of the finest remaining examples of Reid’s private gold coinage--the first private gold coinage of the early 19th century. Reid's production was soon followed by the more extensive coinage of the Bechtler family in Rutherfordton, North Carolina.
Much of what we know about Templeton Reid is based on the research of Dr. Seymour, from whose estate this coin comes. When we offered the Eliasberg Collection example, which we graded as net VF-20, we included the information below, including mention of Seymour:
"Gold had been discovered in Georgia during the 1820s. By the latter part of the decade news had spread and many fortune seekers had arrived in the district. Milledgeville, then the state capital, was one of the centers of activity. Templeton Reid, a gunsmith and clockmaker, sensed an opportunity to fill a commercial need by converting gold dust, then traded by weight in the area, into coins. The nearest and only federal mint was at Philadelphia, which was hundreds of miles distant. For an entrepreneurial miner to send bullion there involved several weeks of time, risk of transportation, and loss of capital. On July 24, 1830, an article appeared in the Southern Recorder which told of Reid’s new enterprise:
"'We have examined, during the past week, with great pleasure, an apparatus constructed by our very ingenious fellow citizen, Mr. Templeton Reid for the purpose of putting gold into a shape more convenient than that in which it is originally found. He makes with great facility and great neatness, pieces worth ten, five, and two and a half dollars. No alloy is mixed with it, and it is so stamped that it cannot be easily imitated. He sets out soon for the mines, and intends putting his apparatus into operation, as soon as he reaches them.
"'About $1500 worth of Georgia Gold has been stamped by our ingenious townsman, Mr. Templeton Reid, with handsome dies, showing the actual value of each piece of metal, in parcels of $2.50, $5, and $10.… Mr. Reid informs us that the gold dust stamped by him will be taken at the Mint and at most of the banks for the value it purports on its face to bear. This will give it a pretty general currency, and make it answer the purposes of money.…'
"Shortly thereafter Templeton Reid moved to Gainesville, which was situated closer to the center of actual mining activity. Coins were made and put into circulation, including one specimen which, unfortunately for Reid, found its way to a disgruntled citizen who styled himself anonymously as 'No Assayer' in a letter to the Georgia Courier August 16, 1830, and complained that Reid was making nearly a 7% profit on his coinage scheme, an amount considered to be exploitative. According to 'No Assayer,' Reid's $10 pieces contained just $9.38 worth of bullion. Apparently Reid produced his coins from native metal without alloying it to a standard fineness. Although his pieces were worth somewhat less than the face value indicated upon them, it is not known whether Reid was seeking an unusually high profit from his coinage or whether the situation was inadvertent. In any event, this and subsequent newspaper accounts apparently served to diminish the reputation of his coins, and minting ceased.
"Templeton Reid's private Georgia mint only operated for about three months. Coinage was effected during part of July, all of August and September and part of October, 1830. Many of his coins were subsequently melted by the United States Mint, accounting in part for their extreme rarity today. Dexter C. Seymour, who studied the series intensively, suggested that only about 1,600 coins were produced totally, including approximately 1,000 quarter eagles, 300 half eagles, and 250 eagles. Templeton Reid may have gone to California in 1849, for dies bearing his name were made with that location as an imprint, but if he did, facts concerning his activities in the far West are not known today."
PCGS Population: 1; 1 finer (Mint State-60 finest).
From the Dr. Dexter Seymour Collection. Earlier from the Jess Peters' 1973 A.N.A. sale.