A highlight of the territorial gold offerings in our Spring 2024 Whitman Expo Auction, this $5 Oregon “Beaver” would be a focal point in any collection of California Gold Rush and related coinage. Many of the design elements are still visible and appreciable and it is quite pleasing in hand for a circulated example of this elusive and challenging type. We anticipate strong competition for this coin among advanced collectors.
Many Oregonians traveled to California to seek their fortunes in the gold fields, returning home with quantities of gold nuggets and dust. As in neighboring California, local money was in short supply and use of gold dust as a medium of exchange was difficult. To address this, the Oregon Exchange Company was established by several prominent Oregon City residents in early 1849. The obverse of the five-dollar coin bears a rustic depiction of a beaver on a log and the initials of the company officers who contributed to the purchase of the coining equipment. While no effort was made to standardize the alloy, the coiners compensated for this by deliberately making the coins overweight. Assays at the U.S. Mint reported that the five-dollar coins were valued at $5.50. While this helped to guarantee acceptance, a value above their stated denomination ensured that the pieces would be taken in at $5 and melted down for their intrinsic worth.
It has been estimated that roughly 6,000 five-dollar coins were produced before minting operations ceased in September 1849, when the company’s two crucibles broke, and the principals decided to disband. “Beaver Money,” as the coins were soon nicknamed, proved popular in commerce as evidenced by the wide range of grades in which they have been found. With their charming design and rich history, Oregon Exchange Company gold coins have been popular with territorial gold collectors for generations. Opportunity is the byword here and interested buyers should not pass up the chance to bid when this piece crosses the auction block in our Spring 2024 Expo Auction.
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For more information about the Stack’s Bowers Galleries Spring 2024 Whitman Expo Auction visit StacksBowers.com. To consign your coins or paper money to one of our 2024 auctions call 800-458-4646 or email [email protected].