Post Lot Text
This is the only example of this issue certified by PCGS as part of the S.S. Central America treasure. This 1849-dated coin may have been carried to California by a Forty Niner. Who knows? In the early month of 1849, tens of thousands of gold seekers from the East headed toward the new El Dorado-by sea around Cape Horn or via the Panama shortcut, or overland by the California Trail, the Santa Fe Trail, or another route. Onward they came. Accounts show that half eagles were among the more popular coins carried west by the Forty Niners. In the diary of Forty Niner John Woodhouse Audubon (son of famous naturalist J.J. Audubon) we encounter several mentions of gold coins as part of $14,000 taken overland by a party of travelers. Along the way, some pieces went missing, but were later found. Audubon wrote of certain of these coins that had been retrieved, and which he was called upon to identify: "He called me to him, led the way to his room, closed and locked the door. He then asked me if I could swear to my money if I saw it. I told him I could not, but described it as well as I could remember. He showed me three or four thousand dollars in gold coin of different nations, and asked me again if I could swear to it. "I could not, though I fully believed it was ours. He looked in my face so closely, that for an instant I though he doubted who and what I was; but I met his clear eye, with one as honest, and slowly he drew a piece of brown post-office paper from his pocket, and asked: 'Is that your handwriting?' "'No,' was my answer, 'but it that of Mr. Hewes of New Orleans, it is calculation of $500 in sovereigns and half eagles which Layton and Hewes placed in my charge, and now I can swear to my money if that paper was with what you have showed me.' "He told me that he had always been satisfied it was mine, as he knew there was not such an amount as I had lost, in the settlement. He counted it twice, took my receipt, and as we went to Camp Ringgold to leave it with the quartermaster, Lieut. Caldwell, who was always most kind, Mr. Upshur told me the manner in which this portion of our money had been regained."