So-Called Dollars


Medals issued by California Medalists Society, San Francisco, at request of state Chamber of Commerce; struck by Irvine & Jachens, Daly City, CA from dies said cut by Fred Johnson. Total issue, both types, limited to 3,000 to 4,000 Bronze pieces, 1,000 being 24K Gold-plated; mounted in folder, Bronze sold for $1, Gold-plated for $2.50. Obverse of medal depicts Sutter's Mill in 1848.

This was start of 3-year celebration; included Gold Rush and Statehood Centennials, 1949 and 1950, respectively; both listed separately, Part I.

Gold first discovered Jan. 24, 1848 by John W. Marshall, partner of John A. Sutter, in tail race of sawmill under construction at Coloma on south fork of American River. First gold found sent that year to Smithsonian Institution where it remains today. News of discovery spread rapidly; 1849 Gold Rush ensued.

Centennial celebration began Coloma, Jan. 24, 1948, with pageant and parade; Los Angeles held week-long "Name Day" festivities in August; Admission Day observance, Sacramento, Sept. 9, staged by Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West. Portola trek reenactment, sponsored by Mission Trails Association and Centennials Commission, left San Diego July, arrived San Francisco 108 days later; festivities culminated there with Portola Festival, Oct. 17-24.

Governor dedicated plaques in San Jose, Dec. 11, marking site of first meeting of state legislature. (For additional information on Native Sons of the Golden West and on Portola Festivals, see Part I, U.S.S. California Launching--1904 and Portola Festivals--1909 and 1913 respectively; see also Part II, California Admission Day Celebrations--1896 and 1912 respectively).


Photos courtesy of Fred Holabird

Obv. Within sunken center, miner panning gold, log cabin and mountains in background; around Centennial Celebration Discovery of Gold in California 1848-1948
Rev. Helmeted female, facing l., holds spear in r. hand, while l. hand rests on shield; at lower l., miner with pick; in background, ships sail on bay; bear above all.

HK-496 Bronze.* Octagonal. 40mm x 40mm.
HK-497 Bronze, gold-plated.

* Most Bronze pieces since have been gold-plated.


Photos courtesy of Fred Holabird

Obv. Similar to Type I in general design [Miner panning gold], but entirely different die; both miner and cabin are much smaller and there is considerably more terrain; setting sun casts rays to border legend; around Centennial Celebration Discovery of Gold in California 1848-1948
Rev. Same as reverse of No. 496 [Helmeted female, facing l.].

HK-498 Bronze, gold-plated. Octagonal. 40mm x 40mm.