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My 15 year love affair with Gold Ingots from the SS Central America Treasure

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In the following years, Columbus America recovered some truly amazing artifacts and even discovered and documented previously unknown species of sea life. Most of the coins that were discovered as part of the treasure were previously known, even if it was in small numbers. The gold bars, known as ingots, however, were not known to exist in many cases. There were even ingots in the Smithsonian Institution that were proved to be fakes! Tommy Thompson’s “America’s Lost Treasure” has some amazing images of all aspects of the recovery and the History Channel documentary has some great footage, but nothing could prepare me for seeing one of these beautiful gold bars in person.

The first ingot I got to hold was a Kellogg and Humbert that we were placing with a client and it’s a moment I’ll never forget. Modern gold bars are available on just about every street corner in America, but the Assayer Ingots have less than 600 in existence. Picking up a California Gold Rush Ingot is an immersive experience. The first thing you notice is the weight. I don’t remember the exact bar, but it was around 40–50 ounces. The bars sits heavy in your hand and the tremendous weight will lower it, no matter how strong you are. The next thing you are drawn to is the assay stamp and the unique numbers notating the bar number, ounce weight, and purity of the gold. No two of these ingots are identical, each one is completely unique. The final thing that hit me is the history. One cannot help but consider how many miners it took and how long it took them to create 50 ounces of gold. During peak production in 1853, $80,000,000.00 worth of gold was produced by 1000,000 miners, equating to around 40 ounces of gold per miner, per year. I was holding more than a man’s entire year of blood, sweat, and tears in my hand. It really makes a person stop and think.

That moment changed my career, and in turn, my life forever. It changed me from a person who took a job to get a break from college into someone who became eager to unlock the mysteries of the SS Central America Treasure and the gold mined from the hills and streams of California during the Gold Rush. My love affair for Assayer Ingots has been going on for 15 years. Every time I seen one in person or even an image, it evokes all of those feelings that I remember from holding one for the first time. Once you’ve been in contact with one of these masterpieces of American history, it never leaves you.

What I genuinely have a hard time understanding is how the market, outside of a couple of major marketers, continues to value these items at such a low per ounce price. There is nothing like them in the market, they are each unique, and continue to sell for anywhere between 50% over their gold content to a few times the gold value. In my view, that is WAY too cheap. I think the market will figure it out one day, however, and that will make today’s levels look cheap. America’s Crown Jewels are on sale right now. Anyone that has the wherewithal should seriously consider this segment of the market.

Maybe my passion towards this segment of the market has gotten the best of me. Love can do strange things to a man. What do you think? Are the Ingots a classic piece of Americana that deserves to be cherished or an ancient artifact that will fade with time? Please share your opinion in the comments below.

We have been producing a ton of great content on coins on YouTube, if you could subscribe to the channel and share it with your friends, it would mean the world to me.

Until next time….

Happy Hunting,

Ryan Lassley

Rare Coin TV

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