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   SIERRA NEVADA MINING COMPANY
PIONEER GOLD COINS

This company is known only because of a pattern $2 ½ piece struck on a United States dime.  Often the private gold coiners would test their dies by striking them on already existing coins of softer and less expensive metal.  The pattern is dated 1850, but nothing concerning the company is known for certain.

A possible candidate is a “Sierra Nevada Gold Mining and Crushing Co.” listed in the London Registry of January 22, 1852.  The purpose of the company was, “To purchase and work gold mines and deposits on or near the Sierra Nevada Range, California, and to carry on the business of crushing auriferous quartz and the heating and reducing of gold ores.”  The promoter of this company was John Duncan, solicitor, whose address was given as 2 New Inn Wych Street, Strand, and whose home was in Brentwood, Essex, England.

Another possibility is that this firm might have been the “Sierra Nevada Quartz Mining Company.”  First mention of this company appeared in the Pacific News of February 26, 1851.  Evidently a group of men formed a company to sell fifty shares in a quarts vein at Grass Valley.  The agent for the company was gold buyer, banker, and historian Alonzo Delano. Delano was owner of Perkins’ Vegetable Depot, on Long Wharf opposite the New Worth Hotel.  It seems that the vein proved quite rich, as three thousand claims were made in three days, and the ground was staked off for four or five miles.

In either case, one could assume that the dies for the coins were made many months earlier, which could account for the 1850 date on the known trial piece.

--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