what kind of money in SF in 1853?

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What kind of money would have been most prevelent in San Francisco in 1853? There were lots of banks there by that time. Did they issue bank notes? Were coins minted here then? There were lots of foreigners--would merchants accept foreign currency? Can anybody direct me to a book or article about such things? TIA

-- Dorothy Leland (leland@dcn.davis.ca.us), January 08, 1998


Dorothy, I found a short, interesting article in Motorland, November 1933. It appeared that besides Gold Dust, there was coinage from all the different foreign lands that were represented here (French, English, German, Brazilian, Columbian, Chinese, etc.), and by 1852 there were a number of private mints creating coins. I also have seen bank notes that were issued by local banks. It appears it wasn't until 1854, when the local mint was opened, that U.S. coinage was the standard. Hope this answers your question.

-- Ron Filion (rfilion@geocities.com), May 08, 1998.

The California Historical Society, 1969, published "William Tecumseh Sherman: Gold Rush Banker", by Dwight L. Clarke.

"At the time of the gold discovery there was virtually no coin of any kind in California.... The immediate need for a medium of exchange was met very inadequately by the use of gold dust and nuggets....By 1851, the Philadelphia mint reported coining by fifteen private California mints, which produced one to four denominations of coin each....Foreign coins of all kinds circulated to some extend as late as 1856 - 1857..... On October 23, 1855, the Alta California editorialized: There probably never had been a single State in the Union so imposed upon with a mixed and debased currency as California....In April 1854, a U.S. Branch mint opened in San Francisco....

U.S. Greenback dollars were not printed until the Civil War.

-- Randy Grandin (Rlgrandin@aol.com), January 16, 1999.

I have on my desk a note dated March 30, 1853, for $50, from the express office of ?? (corner torn off) Adams & Co., San Francisco, on Mssrs. Adams & Co., Boston. It is to pay to the order of Cath. E. Doyle. It is about 4" by 9" (estimate) and was printed by Toppan, Carpenter, Casilear & Co., New York & Phila. The engraved illustration in the center top is of men sluicing gold in a long dugout, apparently. center bottom is a round seal with "Eureka" over the center, and a seated woman in French dress, holding a spear, with a bear next to her, overlooking a man with a pickaxe Anyone tell me anything about it?

-- Wm. B. Leavenworth (sapereaude@yahoo.com), July 12, 2004.

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