Of all territorial gold coins the Clark, Gruber & Co. is one of the most historic and most desired today.
The obverse design is of a rather fanciful view of Pike's Peak, a famous mountain about 70 miles to the south of Denver, overlooking the present city of Colorado Springs. The obverse legends state PIKE'S PEAK GOLD with the mountain at the center, just below in small letters is DENVER and at the base of the obverse is TEN D. The central device is an eagle with a shield, clutching an olive branch and arrows, much like that of the current Liberty eagle gold coin of the period. The fields retain some luster and show a delicate copper blush in areas. Scattered light handling marks and scuffs from brief circulation are present, but none of the marks are deep or detracting. The present coin will be a beautiful addition to an advanced collection.
The Rocky Mountain News, July 25, 1860, described the Clark, Gruber & Co. facility and the mintage of $10 coins:
“[Upon] invitation we forthwith repaired to the elegant banking house of the firm…and were admitted to their coining room in the basement, where we found preparations almost complete for the issue of Pikes Peak coin. A hundred 'blanks' had been prepared, weight and fineness tested, and last manipulation gone through with prior to their passage through the stamping press. The little engine that drives the machinery was fired up, belts adjusted, and between 3 and 4 o'clock the machinery was put in motion and 'mint drop' of the value of $10 each began dropping into a tin pail with the most musical 'clink.' About $1,000 were turned out, at the rate of fifteen or twenty coins a minute, which was deemed satisfactory for the first equipment. The coins--of which none but $10 pieces are yet coined--are seventeen grains heavier than the United States coin of the same denomination.
“On the face is a representation of the Peak, its base surrounded by a forest of timber, and 'Pikes Peak Gold' encircling the summit. Immediately under its base is the word 'Denver' and beneath it 'Ten D.' On the reverse is the American eagle, encircled by the name of the firm 'Clark, Gruber & Co.,' and beneath it the date, '1860.' The coin has a little of the roughness peculiar to newness, but is upon the whole, very credible in appearance, and a vast improvement over ‘dust’ as a circulating medium.”
Most probably the Pikes Peak motif was discontinued after 1860 in favor of a federal-copy obverse to facilitate circulation. See the next lot.
From the Dr. Dexter Seymour Collection. Earlier: from our (Stack's) Public Auction sale, in conjunction with the Metropolitan New York Numismatic Convention, April 1976, lot 166. Auction tag included.