In an exciting twist of historical importance, a nineteenth-century German gold ducat coin that was actually minted with gold from the famous Rhine River will be hitting the auction block at the end of this month.
The U.S. also has a history of minting coins from locally sourced gold, such as the gold pieces that circulated throughout the Old West following the California Gold Rush. These were often referred to as "pioneer gold." In fact, one of these coins, quarter eagle ($2.50) gold coin bearing the inscription "CAL." to signify its origin, is considered by some to be the first-ever U.S. commemorative.
An 1830 German gold ducat offers an even more explicit provenance. The reverse design of the coin shows the coat of arms depicting a riverside scene with the inscription "EX AURO RHENI," which translates to "from gold of the Rhine." It is the oldest such example of this practice in reference to the Rhine.
It is believed that the gold used to strike the coin came from alluvial deposits in the river. Similar cases have been found where coins or medals were produced with alluvial gold that was panned from the Danube River. Reporting by Coin World estimates that German gold coins struck from "river gold" were produced for nearly two centuries, between 1674 and 1863. The first such gold ducat coin to reference the river origins of its gold is said to have been minted in Munich in 1756 from the Danube.
Incredibly, it is said that the Grand Duchy of Baden alone managed to extract 83 kilos of gold from German rivers during the 19th century!
The 1830 specimen will be auctioned by Sincona AG on October 25th with an opening bid set at 3,800 Swiss francs (approximately $3,900).
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