Here’s something you don’t see every day: A notorious false western gold ingot bearing the mark of Gorham Blake (1822-1897), though not produced by that firm.
There is a lengthy, shocking and well documented essay on these false gold bars written by John Kleeberg, the former curator of US Numismatics at the American Numismatic Society, and viewable here.
To quote from the introduction of that essay: "Over half a century and more a variety of false gold ingots purporting to derive from the 19th century West, as well as from 18th century Mexico and Arizona, have appeared on the market . . . The ingots have been sold directly to collectors, or offered at auction by various dealers.
The largest single collection of this material was assembled privately by Josiah Lilly, who believed them to be genuine. These are now owned by the nation, as part of the numismatic collection of the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington.”
These ingots were accepted as genuine, widely collected and valued at significant amounts for decades, until an ‘inconvenient truth’ in the form of the SS Central America wreck was salvaged, and the treasure hunters brought up genuine Blake & Co. gold bars that looked nothing like this one.
Interesting, notorious and made of 1.18 ounces of genuine gold, this ‘false’ ingot is a highly collectible piece of numismatic history today.
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