grams. 13.9 x 10.1 x 0.9 mm cast in yellow gold with
two vertical Chinese characters on the face; the back
is blank. Moderate signs of handling have appeared over
the years. From a condition standpoint, this is probably
Extremely Fine. This small gold ingot was the subject
of an article in The Numismatist issue of March 1987.
David T. Alexander contributed "Peter Britt, the
Chinese and Oregon Gold," and this identical piece,
which is certainly unique, was illustrated on the cover.
This particular piece was recorded as a product of Chinese
immigrants living in southern Oregon. Jacksonville,
Oregon is located just west of Medford, and about 50
miles north of Yreka, California. Peter Britt was a
photographer who settled in the area and became friendly
with the Chinese in their work camps. "From the
time of his arrival in Jacksonville, Peter Britt was
noted for his friendly dealings with the Chinese miners,"
according to Alexander.
Peter Britt had several children, including Emil Britt,
born sometime prior to 1871. Emil eventually inherited
this small ingot, which eventually made its way to Walter
H. Jones, a Medford numismatist who purchased the piece
directly from the younger Britt. Jones carefully recorded
the history as it was related by Britt: "This gold
slug was made from gold mined at Jacksonville, Oregon
by Chinese miners. These Chinamen camped on property
purchased by Peter Britt, who received this slug from
them as a gift of appreciation about 1854. At that time
most business was done on a barter [sic] basis or by
payment of gold dust or nuggets as there were not enough
coins available. Hence this slug was intended for use
as money. This specimen [sic] was purchased from Emil
Britt, son of Peter Britt." The handwritten note,
on stationary from Hotel Benson, is illustrated in The
Numismatist, however, no longer accompanies this ingot.
The characters stamped on the face of this piece were
translated by Alexander as "Heaven Original"
and "Sufficient Gold."
Alexander summarized the importance of this ingot: "this
Chinese piece exists today with impressive historical
evidence documenting that it was, without a doubt, made
in Oregon from native gold; dug, refined, and cast by
Chinese miners; and presented by them to their friend
and benefactor, Peter Britt. As far as is known, the
ingot is unique and may be the latest significant addition
to the history of pioneer gold." Please see the
accompanying documents from “The Numismatist”
publication by the American Numismatic Association from
From The Great Western Collection of Territorial Gold.
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