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HEINRICH SCHAEFFER
PIONEER GOLD COINS

The little that is known concerning this projected coinage is contained in an interview between Edgar Adams and Professor William E. Hidden, publisher of a history of the Bechtlers.   Professor Hidden stated that Schaeffer had made a series of dies, probably in the East, and then left for California.  He further stated:

            This Mr. Schaeffer was “a witness and if necessary an executor” of the
            Will of Alt Christoph Bechtler (who died in 1842).  I learned at
            Rutherfordton from a son of Heinrich Schaeffer that his father had a set
            of dies made soon after the discovery of gold in California and it was
            his intention to hasten there and begin a mintage business similar to that
            which had been so prosperous under the Bechtlers.  This set must have
            been made as late as 1849 or 1850, and some half of a dozen years after
            the death of both the original Bechtlers (Christopher and his son Augustus).
            It follows that the old punches (of letters) were used for the Schaeffer
            dies, and the design shows a continuance of the Bechtler ideas.  It seems,
            therefore, that we can look with confidence to further discovering of
            specimens of the Schaeffer coinage.

This statement probably is correct, as it is true that an “H. C. G. Schaeffer” did witness Christopher Bechtler’s will.  In addition, the style of the unique “Schaeffer” $5 trial piece does strongly resemble that of the Bechtlers.

This undated trial piece, overstruck on an 1841 U. S. cent, is thought to have been made in North Carolina, possibly on Bechtler’s press, sometime before Schaeffer left for California in late 1849.

--Reprinted with permission of the author from Donald H. Kagin's, "Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States", copyright 1981, Arco Publishing, Inc. of New York