Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Highlights Frontier Gold

Posted on 7/25/2006

NGC and NCS are presenting sponsors.

[WASHINGTON, DC] - The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will present “Frontier Gold,” a traveling display showcasing the pioneer gold and silver coinage that helped change the dynamics of the American West at the American Numismatic Association World Fair of Money convention Aug. 16–19 in Denver, Colo. Featuring artifacts from the museum’s National Numismatic Collection, “Frontier Gold” will highlight some of the most prized coins struck during the precious metal boom of the mid 1800s. Of particular interest are the 1854S United States $5 gold coin, the finest known example of only 268 pieces struck that year, and the 1861 Clark Gruber & Co. $10 piece, which featured a (not authentic) likeness of Pike’s Peak, near the site of the Colorado gold strike.

“These coins illustrate America’s rich frontier gold heritage and how gold revolutionized the economy of the West, making them a fundamental piece of this nation’s history” said Brent D. Glass, director, National Museum of American History.

Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of America and Numismatic Conservation Services, LLC are the presenting sponsors of the exhibition.

“This new exhibition makes some of the greatest coins available to inspire new collectors and to build awareness of numismatics,” said Mark Salzberg, chairman of NGC and NCS. “It’s very satisfying to see it come to fruition as it's exactly what our hobby needs.”

The boom of precious metal strikes—California gold in the 1840s, gold in Colorado in the 1850s, and both gold and silver strikes in Nevada during the 1860s—transformed life in the American West. Enterprising jewelers and metallurgists struck these raw metals into coins and ingots. Many bear images of the American West, displaying a dynamic, regional pride. Other prized objects in the display include the 1861 Parsons and Co. $5 coin, one of only three surviving, and a J. J. Conway & Co. ten-dollar gold piece from the same year, again one of only three known. The discovery of Western precious metals and subsequent coin production fueled local economies and helped to restructure the American monetary system.

This display draws from the museum’s National Numismatic Collection, which consists of more than 1.5 million objects, including coins, medals and paper currency, and preserves the role of money in economic history. The museum will travel additional displays to conventions in Orlando, Fla. in Jan. 2007, to St. Louis, Mo. in April 2007 and Baltimore, Md. in August 2007 customized to the themes of those shows.

Released July 5, 2006, Smithsonian, National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center. Contact (202) 633-1000 or visit americanhistory.si.edu for further information.

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