$2 1/2 C. Bechtler North Carolina 70 Grain 20 Carat PCGS AU58 CAC

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Everyone knows where America’s first Gold Rush was. California!

But actually … that was only our nation’s most famous Gold Rush. Our first Gold Rush was in North Carolina.

In the late 1820s, large amounts of gold were discovered in the beautiful Blue Ridge foothills of North Carolina. Just a few years later, an enterprising German jeweler and clockmaker named Christopher Bechtler moved to Rutherfordton, North Carolina, and set up shop.

An enterprising businessman, Bechtler quickly set about snapping up land—several thousand acres of it. He was always careful to choose land along a stream or river, where he’d be likely to find gold.

Then Bechtler set about mining, and at a rapid clip. Such quantities of gold came out of his mines that he started turning them into coins and ingots, there being no mint nearby. These “territorials” were common at the time: coins issued by private minters, entrepreneurs, and other enterprising types, filling a gap that the federal government wasn’t.

From 1836 to 1838, Bechtler and his family minted roughly $770,239.50 in gold coins, 10 times North Carolina’s revenue for all of 1835. The Bechtlers dealt with more gold than the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia and the (later opened) Charlotte Branch Mint combined.

Made By Human Hands

Unlike today’s automated processes, producing coins in the 19th century was a laborious task.

The Bechtlers produced each coin using a hand-operated coin press and dies they made themselves. Separating the raw gold from gravel, smelting, pouring, pressing: it was all done right there in the Bechtlers’ facilities.



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