The Pacific Company was an 1849 partnership
of thirty-eight people whose goal was to coin gold bullion
in California. They arrived in San Francisco on September
16, 1849. The company disbanded before they got to use the
dies they had brought from the East. Instead the dies were
sold to Broderick & Kohler, which used them to make
five and ten dollar coins. When the coins were made at less
than their face value, they were refused except at a discount.
Soon the whole coinage was melted.
The origin of the Pacific Company is a mystery.
Several companies could have commissioned the dies used
to strike Pacific Company coin. One is the Pacific Mining
& Trading Company, which was organized in Richmond,
Virginia. They left Richmond on March 16, 1849, sailed around
Cape Horn on the ship Marianne and reached San Francisco
September 20th. However, there is no indication that this
company was in the gold assaying or coining business. Another
was the Pacific Mining Co., which was organized in San Francisco
with the stated purpose of using a recently purchased steamer,
the Chesapeake, to exploit the gold discovered on the beach
of Humboldt Bay.
However, this company was organized in 1851,
and all known “Pacific Company” coins are dated
1849 so it is unlikely that the Pacific Mining Co. issued
them. Most likely the coins were made by the Pacific Company.
It was formed on January 8, 1849, by Boston merchant John
W. Cartwright of 32 India Street. Each of the thirty members
contributed one thousand dollars to purchase and outfit
the ship York to travel from Boston to San Francisco. The
group had to expand to thirty-eight so they would have enough
money for the ship. On September 16, 1849, the Pacific Company
arrived in California. Shortly afterwards, the company disbanded.
The dies for the dollar and quarter eagle were believed
to have not been used except for trial strikings in off
However, a gold specimen of the Pacific
Company dollar surfaced and sold in 2000 at a Bowers &
Merena Galleries’ auction. Another piece, from the
Virgil M. Brand collection, sold in 2002. The piece is .722
gold, .168 silver, and .110 copper. This low gold fineness
is not unusual with pioneer coins.