RARE AND ENIGMATIC 36-coin SET of “COINS OF THE GOLDEN WEST” by HART
Similar in shape and dimension to the California Fractional Gold series, the privately struck gold “Coins of the Golden West” have been puzzling researchers for decades. Struck in 10 ct. gold or finer (with the Alaska-Yukon series coming in at approx. 21 ct, according to Burnie), these mysterious and gold issues are a colorful commemoration of all U.S. gold rush locales and feature unusual denominations such as Pinch, DWT and Minerva Bear.
Group includes: Alaska Pinch Series – 6 pcs., Parka Heads – 3 pcs., Alaska-Yukon Expo – 3 pcs., Minerva Bears – 6 pcs., Indian Bears – 6 pcs., Idaho Gold – 3 pcs., Montana Gold – 3 pcs., Oregon Gold – 3 pcs., Washington Gold – 3 pcs.
M.E. Hart, the original marketer of these beautiful gold tokens (along with Farran Zerbe) is even somewhat of a mystery – speculation exists that it is the person of Mary E. Hart, one of the most prominent and flamboyant businesswomen of the era.
A brief look at the trajectory of her life puts Mary E. Hart at the epicenter of the Golden West set distribution:
By 1904, Mary Hart was traveling regularly between San Francisco and Alaska, as well as Los Angeles and Tacoma – a tireless promoter of Alaska, she was the manager of Alaska’s exhibits at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, continuing her Alaska promotions into the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. She also had family connections with Mayer and Brothers Jewelers, makers of the Alaska-Yukon tokens, and was active in marketing all the Golden West issues at the 1916 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. While there is no “smoking gun” indicating that Mary E. Hart was responsible for producing the “Coins of Golden West”, ancillary evidence strongly suggests that she was in the thick of it. With her interest in the gold industry (and an impressive collection of Alaska gold nuggets), she is a natural fit for the persona of “M.E. Hart”, the original promoter of these fascinating private gold issues.
Marketed at the above Expositions from 1904 to 1916, the set makes an impressive visual, 36 pieces of privately minted, golden art!