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1854 SSCA Kellogg Double Eagle PCGS MS62+ CAC

2023-10-18 17:22:00
1854 SSCA Kellogg Double Eagle PCGS MS62+ CAC

1854 SSCA Kellogg Double Eagle PCGS MS62+ CAC

Jack McNamara's Live Auction Featured Coin

Thursday, October 19th, 2023


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  • Mintage: Unknown
  • PCGS Population: 1/2
  • SSCA Population: 1/0
  • Finest Known: MS65 (1) – Last traded in 2023, for approximately $550,000
  • Before operations began at the San Francisco Mint in April of 1854, gold miners and California businessmen required a standard medium of exchange in the form of coinage for the enormous sum of raw gold discovered as early as 1848.
  • Private institutions provided an outlet initially; however, many were nefarious operations seeking to take advantage of the absence of a federal regulatory party in the area to ensure depositors were receiving a fair amount for their gold.
  • This led to the establishment of the United States Assay Office on September 30, 1850. The provisional branch mint was allowed to provide issuance of $50 to $10,000 and nothing lower until February of 1852, when they were finally permitted to issue $10 and $20 gold pieces.
  • Operations at the United States Assay Office of Gold ceased indefinitely on December 14, 1853. Thereafter the building was expanded and converted into the San Francisco Branch Mint, which formally opened its door almost exactly 5 months later.
  • During the time between the United States Assay Office of Gold concluding operations and the San Francsico Mint beginning its own, the question of where local commerce was expected to acquire its coins for day-to-day business was on the minds of most Californians.
  • John Glover Kellogg’s operation was the solution to this void, having opened his own assaying office following the closure of the U.S. Assay Office of Gold and at the direct request of Californian businessmen.
  • Kellogg having been an employee of the United States Assay Office, working under Curtis, Perry, and Humbert, was fully endorsed by all three for his exceptional work and integrity.
  • Not long after, several banking houses in San Francisco and Sacramento were feeling the deleterious effects of the coin shortage and implored Kellogg to supply private coins until the U.S. Mint began operations.
  • On January 31, 1854, Kellogg replied that he would comply with the requests within ten days. In honorable fashion, Kellogg did just that, issuing private gold coins in the form of $20 pieces on February 9, 1854.
  • These new coins were universally accepted and even when the San Francisco Mint finally opened in April 1854.
  • Kellogg’s coins were continually relied on during the initial years of the San Francisco Mint as production was erratic, facing constant shortages of alloys, parting acids and being forced to cease operations temporarily on more than one occasion.
  • An article in May of 1855, alluded to the fact that Kellogg & Co. was supplying over 50% more coins than the United States Mint. Between 1854 & 1855, roughly 300,000 $20 double eagles were struck by Kellogg & Company.  
  • By the end of 1855, the San Francisco Mint had finally hit its groove and the services of private operations such as Kellogg’s were no longer needed, bringing an end to an impactful and romantic era of private gold operations in California.
  • Few pieces from Kellogg & Co. have managed to survive through the years having witnessed significant circulation in a time of need and subsequently being melted once the San Francisco Mint was fully functional.
  • Some of the artifacts that exist today are only made possible by recent shipwreck discoveries thanks to modern technology, such as the salvaging of the S.S. Central America that fell to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in 1857.
  • Known as one of the greatest economic catastrophes in all U.S. maritime history, the SSCA carried onboard approximately $8 million of gold in 1857, an estimated total worth about $550 million today!
  • Among the shipwreck gold were mostly double eagles struck at the San Francisco Mint dated 1857. However, a few dozen $20 pieces from Kellogg & Co. were recovered.
  • PCGS, which certified a bulk of the SSCA recovery, has graded in total 26 pieces for the $20 1854 Kelloggs & 23 pieces for the $20 1855 Kelloggs from the SSCA shipwreck.
  • According to PCGS Population Data, only 4 pieces were recovered and certified in UNCIRCULATED condition between the two dates. The present MS62+ C.A.C. example is the single finest known Kellogg & Company specimen recovered from the infamous S.S. Central America shipwreck.
  • There is just two other standard issue Kellogg & Company $20s that are certified in higher grades, neither are from the S.S. Central America; a single 1854 $20 PCGS MS63, which has never traded and the sole finest known 1854 $20 PCGS MS65 CAC, which sold in 2023 for over $550,000!
  • Finest known shipwreck specimens tend to generate significant collector interest when they seldom become available. Below are several examples:
    • An 1856-S G$1 SSCA PCGS MS65+ CAC sold for approximately $160,000 in 2021. Meanwhile an 1858-S G$1 PCGS MS65 brought less than $40,000 in 2020, despite being a tougher date.
    • In 2022, an 1851 $50 SSCA Humbert PCGS AU55 traded for roughly $265,000. This is nearly $25,000 more than what a non-shipwreck example graded PCGS MS63 sold for two years earlier.
    • Then there is the 1857-S $20 SSCA PCGS MS67+ CAC that sold in 2022, for approx. $350,000! This is one of five examples graded MS67+ with another 22 coins known in MS67 condition.
  • There are few pieces in the universe of numismatics as rich in history as the current specimen. Finest known privately struck shipwreck treasure from one of the most prolific coining operations during the California Gold Rush, what is not to love!? Not mention the only record for a finer known Kellogg & Company $20 selling is nearly twice the amount of example shown here.