The Bar Has Been Raised
I recently had a collector in my office and watched a tear roll down his cheek when he held his SS Central America Justh & Hunter ingot for the first time. He looked up and said, “My ancestors came to California during the Gold Rush seeking their fortune.” This gentleman will likely go to his grave with his Gold Rush ingot.
With over 80% of these wonderful numismatic artifacts already off the market, some indefinitely because of the genuine love for these ingots by the collectors purchasing them, we are seeing substantial price increases for those ingots produced by the assay companies whose ingots are now off the market.
For example, a tiny 7.16 ounce ingot from the Blake & Co. assayers recently sold at public auction for an impressive $54,625. That’s $7,629 per ounce! The first time this ingot hit the auction block was in June 2000 at the Sotheby’s Sale and it realized $22,000, or $3,072 per ounce. I happen to know the current owner of this bar and he actually paid $60,000 for the piece, paying a 10% premium over its auction price. That is over $8,000 per ounce!
I occasionally hear from people expressing concern about the premiums for these wonderful treasures, and I do understand how the ingots’ valuations can be somewhat confusing. However, you have to remember that these monetary ingots are so much more than just a brick of gold! They were real money, and from an era that helped build this great nation. Trying to associate their value with that of the current price of gold is just not logical. It would be like associating the value of a great master painting with the price of paint!
The SS Central America Gold Rush ingots are rare and wonderful artifacts with a human link to our past. The fact they were made from California gold is just a bonus. The following chart shows the prices of selected ingots that have sold at public auction over the last couple of years. As you can see from the up-trend in prices, there is real demand and a solid foundation of collectors and investors with a desire to own and enjoy them.