Coins, Currency, and Medals
The Museum possesses one of the largest numismatic collections in the world. The collections include over 1 million objects, comprising coins, medals, decorations, and pieces of paper money. Among the many great rarities here are some of the world’s oldest coins, created 2,700 years ago. But the collection also includes the latest innovations in electronic monetary exchange, as well as beads, wampum, and other commodities once used as money. A special strength lies in artifacts that illustrate the development of money and medals in the United States. The American section includes many rare and significant coins, such as two of three known examples of the world's most valuable coin, the 1933 double eagle $20 gold piece.
"Coins, Currency, and Medals - Overview" showing 1 items.
- Like Templeton Reid, a family of German immigrants named Bechtler established a private mint to coin gold between 1830 and 1852. The head of the clan, Alt Christoph, started out in the Black Forest area where he was apprenticed as a goldsmith, silversmith, and gunsmith.
- Already well into middle age, he decided to seek his fortune in America. The early spring of 1830 found him and his family in Rutherfordton, North Carolina, where they set up shop as jewelers and watchmakers. The shortage of coinage in that part of the South, the abundance of gold from the new discoveries, the near-impossibility of getting it safely to the Mint at Philadelphia, and Alt Christoph's experience as a metallurgist, set the conditions for an important event.
- When local settlers were unsuccessful in petitioning Congress to establish a branch Mint, Alt Christoph created a private mint. He made his dies, punches, even his presses, himself. His coins were simple affairs, but they were of honest weight and good quality. His first gold coins began making their appearance in the summer of 1831.
- Alt Christoph ran the Bechtler mint until 1840. He then retired, and the operation was taken over by his son, August, remaining at work until about 1852, when it finally closed. To the Bechtlers goes the distinction of issuing the first gold dollars. They were doing so as early as 1834; the federal government didn't get around to striking the denomination until 1849!
- Currently not on view
- Date made
- obverse designer
- Bechtler, Alt Christoph
- reverse designer
- Bechtler, Alt Christoph
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center