George C. Baldwin and Thomas S. Holman were
in the jewelry and watch making business in San Francisco.
They were known as Baldwin & Co. In 1850 they bought
out F.D. Kohler & Co. and took over its machinery to
become an assaying and coining company. On May 1st they
advertised themselves as successors to Kohler in the Pacific
News. In the first three months they coined $590,000. They
were so successful that they coined $60.000 more than the
federal Assay Office for the same period of time. Because
of the coinage shortage, local banks advertised that they
would accept Baldwin & Co. coins at face value.
for Baldwin & Co. James King, a local muckraker and
defender of public morality, submitted some of their coinage
for assay and published the results in the local newspapers.
Humbert, the assayer, described the Baldwin coinage as being
three percent undervalued. Although this information was
not accurate, the Philadelphia Mint assayed Baldwin’s
ten dollars to be worth $9.96 compared to Humbert’s
reported assay value of $9.74, Baldwin’s reputation
was ruined. The resulting scandal forced Baldwin and his
new partner, Bagley, to leave for good. James King and his
fellow bankers then bought up the remaining Baldwin coinage
at a discounted price and resold it to Humbert at the higher
Gold Coins came in five, ten and twenty dollar denominations.
The 1850 five dollar piece shows a coronet motif, similar
to half eagles of the time. However, inscribed on the coronet
are the words BALDWIN & CO. The reverse shows a heraldic
eagle facing left. The inscription is SM.V., for “Standard
Mint Value,” with CALIFORNIA GOLD in an arc above
and the denomination below.
The 1850 ten dollar coin’s obverse
depicted a mounted cowboy or horseman twirling a lasso.
A. KUNER, the designer, is signed on the ground below the
horse. The other inscriptions are CALIFORNIA GOLD at the
top and TEN DOLLARS below. The date is between the ground
and the denomination. The reverse shows a heraldic eagle
facing left. In an arc between its wing tips is the inscription
BALDWIN & CO. Below the wing tips are five stars on
each side of the coin. SAN FRANCISCO is below.
The 1851 ten and twenty dollar coins are similar to the
five dollar coin except for their size, weight, and the