Incredibly Important 1855-S Counterstamp
$20 with Polhemus Imprint
Post Lot Text
Not only is this coin exceedingly important as an attributable California counterstamp and, in effect, "store card" of a merchant, but it also carries the pedigree of the S.S. Central America. We have only ever seen or heard of one other coin with this counterstamp-an 1857-S in the Dr. Hudson Collection, brought to market many years ago. For the collector of counterstamps, for the collector of California store cards, for the museum or historian who would like two elements of history combined-numismatics and a famous personality-this coin is front row center. James L. Polhemus is well known for his liberal use of advertising counterstamps. This same stamp was applied to American and foreign silver coins of every description following his move to 7th and J Streets in Sacramento in December 1850. Earlier, he established a pharmacy further up J Street across from the Magnolia Saloon in August 1850, exactly one year after his arrival in Sacramento. Polhemus made his name known through more orthodox methods of advertising as well, purchasing space in both the Sacramento Bee and the California Farmer beginning in early 1857. He drew attention to low prices, cash accounts, and all-night hours, in addition to his inventory of all sorts of drugs and sundries. His store, on a corner street-level location, displayed a large mortar and pestle sign in front. One of the best known Gold Rush era merchants in Sacramento and one of the most prolific early California counterstampers, Polhemus may have counterstamped multiple double eagles, but to our knowledge this is the only 1855-S that has survived. The present offering is thus unique in combination of date and imprint, and of the utmost importance to those interested in California Gold Rush merchants.