On December 23, 1848 Edward E. Dunbar left
New York City for California. He traveled on the steamer
Crescent to Panama, walked across the isthmus, and arrived
in San Francisco on the California on February 28th. The
enterprising Dunbar became an auctioneer and commission
merchant within two months. He also insured gold dust and
The following November he opened up the
Merchant’s Exchange and Reading Room. He lost this
facility in 1850 at the time of the “great fire.”
In September of 1850 he opened Dunbar’s California
Bank. During this time he bought and sold gold dust and
insured shipments to New York. In November he included an
exchange office where local paper money was bought and sold.
In December the California Courier ran an article that said
that Dunbar would redeem Baldwin coins at par.
Between September and April Dunbar began
to issue his own coins. The dies were engraved in the style
of Albert Kuner also of San Francisco. Researchers do not
know why the Dunbar coins were omitted from the sample that
was sent to Humbert to be assayed by James King. Later Dunbar
sent samples of his five-dollar coin to Humbert, who refused
to test them. Subsequently the former State Assayer, Kohler,
assayed Dunbar’s gold and found that they were worth
$5.13. However, in the spring Dunbar stopped minting coins.
Dunbar turned to currency manufacturing and formed the Continental
Bank Note Company.