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1838 Smithsonian Gold Founders NGC PF70UCAM 2pc Set
The Two Coins that Created a National Institution
The United States National Museum. The Nation's Attic. The Castle. However you choose to refer to it, the Smithsonian Institution is one of the greatest establishments in the United States, conjuring up images of Dorothy's ruby red slippers, President Lincoln's stove pipe hat and, for coin enthusiasts around the world, a very impressive collection.
But where does this colossus of cultural collections, with nineteen different museums and galleries, come from, and what precipitated its creation? The tale is as fascinating as it is revelatory, and it begins nearly 190 years ago with the 1829 death of a man named James Smithson.
An Establishment for the Increase and Diffusion of Knowledge
When James Smithson, a wealthy British chemist and mineralist, passed away in 1829, he left his sizable estate to his nephew, Henry James Dickinson. But when Dickinson passed away several years later without an heir, a stipulation in Smithson's will went into effect: all of his assets would go "to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men." One has to wonder why Smithson wanted his namesake established in the United States. Born in France, educated in England and well-traveled about Europe, Smithson had never actually set foot in the New World! Despite the mysterious request, though, the British courts sent notice to the United States government of Smithson's final wish.
The United States Congress accepted the bequest in 1836, but the money would not be sent for another two years-by which time King William IV died and his niece, Queen Victoria, acceded to the throne. When the time came for Smithson's estate to be sent across the Atlantic, Congress asked that it be sent in the form of newly struck Gold Sovereigns bearing the face of the new monarch. The Royal Mint went to work, and soon 104,960 British Gold Sovereigns were loaded on a ship bound for America-a place, we should remind you, that Smithson had never visited.
A Perilous Journey, and 104,960 Gold Questions
The journey across the Atlantic was fraught with danger, and the ship carrying Smithson's bequest faced no fewer than two hurricanes on its passage across the Atlantic. Fortunately it arrived in one piece, and the gold was unloaded and presented to the United States government-who ran into a slight issue. Transferring Smithson's estate to government-guaranteed gold was a smart move, but now that it had reached The New World, who was going to accept foreign coin as payment?
The gold was there, though, and gold can be restruck-so the coinage was shipped to the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia where it was melted down and turned into nearly $508,320 worth of $10 U.S. "Liberty" Gold Eagles-more than $11 million in modern money.
An Interesting Achievement
As you can imagine, $11 million dollars can go a long way. Using nothing but the interest gained from Smithson's original bequest, a castle-like structure was constructed of Seneca red sandstone near the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian Institution was born, and The Castle is still used to this day as the Smithsonian Information Center and the Institution's administrative headquarters.
But the story of Smithson's historic donation doesn't end there. Thanks to the brilliant minds behind the Smithsonian Institution's founding, operations continued using only the interest gained by the initial bequest and additional capital fundraising campaigns. To this day, it's believed that none of Smithson's original donation has been spent!
A Tale of Two Coins: Introducing the Smithsonian 1838 Gold Founder's Set
Now is your chance to add a piece of this incredible true story to your collection. In honor of this legendary tale, the Commonwealth Mint has struck two special dual-dated proofs, modeled after the two coins that made the founding of the Smithsonian Institution possible. Each comes struck in 99.99% pure gold and features dual dates of 1838, the year that would have graced the British "Victoria" Sovereigns sent across the Atlantic as well as the U.S. Liberty Gold Eagles used to found the Smithsonian Institution, and 2017, the year the proofs were struck.
The proof modeled after the British Sovereign even features a special crest on the reverse depicting the Smithson family crest, the lion of Great Britain, the eagle of the United States and the emblem of the Smithsonian Institution-a wonderful representation of this incredible story.
Officially assayed by the Queen's Assay office and approved by the Smithsonian Institution, this Smithsonian 1838 Gold Founder's Set comes in a beautiful black lacquered wooden box with a special silver certificate of authenticity. GovMint.com is proud to be an official distributor of this historic set, but with a maximum mintage of only 1,838 sets, their story will soon be told only in the homes of private collectors. Don't miss out on this incredible opportunity to bring this 190-year-old story home.
|Year of Issue||2017, 1838|
|Mint Name||Commonwealth Mint|
|Coin Weight||7.77 Grams - g, 15.55 Grams - g|
|Weight||1/4 Ounce - oz, 1/2 Ounce - oz|