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Baldwin & Co. Gold Coins
Baldwin & Co. Gold Coins

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.

Baldwin & Co.Unfortunately 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 rate.

The Baldwin 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 denomination.

Baldwin & Co. Gold Coins - Baldwin Gold Coins - Baldwin Gold

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