1849 Oregon Exchange Company $5. K-1. Rarity-5. VF-35 (PCGS).
This intriguing piece is one of the highlights of the upcoming Stack Bowers ANA Money Show Auction to take place this week. As Lot #539 this is one of several very attractive terriorials amoung a large selection of beautiful US coins to be offerd oin Portland.
Mottled rose and russet highlights are also evident, particularly in the protected areas around the devices. The definition is superior for a mid-grade Oregon territorial and has all devices and letters clear, and even some sharper detail remaining to the beaver. An important and eminently collectible example of this historic and elusive type.
Many Oregonians who traveled to California to seek their fortune in the gold fields returned home bringing with them quantities of nuggets and gold dust. As with their neighbors in California, local money was in short supply and use of gold dust as a medium of exchange was fraught with difficulties. To address this issue, the Oregon Exchange Company was established by several prominent Oregon City residents in early 1849. The obverse of the five dollar coins all bear 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: Kilborn, Magruder, Taylor, Abernethy, Willson, Rector, Campbell (which was erroneously entered as a G), and Smith. The T. O. – another die engraver error – represents Oregon Territory. This transposition was corrected on the $10 denomination.
While no effort was made to standardize the alloy, the coiners compensated for this by deliberating making the coins overweight. U. S. Mint assays report that the five dollar coins were valued at $5.50. While this helped to guarantee their acceptance, being worth more than their stated value ensured that the pieces would be taken in at face and melted down for their intrinsic value. It has been estimated that roughly 6,000 of the $5 coins were produced before minting operations ceased in September 1849 when their two crucibles broke and the company 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.
Uncirculated examples of the $5 are among the rarest of the rare and undamaged evenly circulated specimens are challenging to find. With their charming beaver design and rich history, Oregon Exchange Company gold coins have been favored by the territorial gold collecting community for generations. Opportunity is the byword here and it is one that should not be passed up.
PCGS# 10288. NGC ID: ANJV.
PCGS Population: 2; 16 finer.