Bechtlers, 5 Dollars, 1834

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
Object Name
Date made
obverse designer
Bechtler, Alt Christoph
reverse designer
Bechtler, Alt Christoph
Physical Description
gold (overall metal)
0 (overall die axis)
0 (overall die axis measurement)
struck (overall production method)
overall: dia. 24.8 mm; wt. 8.993 g
place of issue
United States: North Carolina
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Coins, Currency and Medals
Legendary Coins
See more items in
Armed Forces History: National Numismatic Collection
Legendary Coins
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Publication title
Glossary of Coins and Currency Terms
Publication URL
Additional Media

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