So-Called Dollars


First medal below issued by California Medalists Society, San Francisco, designer and striking firm unknown; struck also with loop for use by American Numismatic Association as 1949 convention badge. Issue limited to 3,000 Bronze pieces, 1,000 being 24K Gold-plated; sold for $1 and $2.50, respectively. This was part of 3-year celebration starting with Gold Rush Centennial--1948, culminating in Statehood Centennial--1950; both listed separately, Part I.

With start of 1849 Gold Rush, three principal routes were by ship around Cape Horn; by ship to Panama, overland across Isthmus, thence by ship again to San Francisco; finally, by ox-train and prairie schooner across country. Migration was unique in U.S. history; 4,350 wagons crossed Missouri River by May 18; 75,000 to 100,000 people entered state in 1849.

Centennial celebration was statewide; San Jose State College presented fete, June 1-4, "Rose of the Rancho"; there again, Sept. 9-11, Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West commemorated both Admission Day and establishment of that city as state's first capital. Columbia and Monterey staged parades and pageants, July 15-17 and Aug. 30-Sept. 6, respectively, latter observing centennial of first Constitutional Convention. Death Valley paid tribute, Dec. 2-4, to those crossing Valley in 1849; California Historical Society held San Jose ceremony Dec. 10, commemorating first meeting of legislature there Dec. 15, 1849.


Photos courtesy of John Dean

Obv. Covered wagon, drawn by oxen, proceeding l.; lead ox touches on relief map of California--all raised on countersunk center area; outside, above around, California Gold Rush Centennial; below * 1849 * 1949 *
Rev. Miner's pan in center of crossed pick and shovel--all raised on countersunk center area; plain wide band around.

HK-500 Lead, bronze-plated.. 39mm.
HK-501 Lead, gold-plated.


Issuer, designer, diesinker and striker unknown to authors.

Photos courtesy of Fred Holabird

Obv. Kneeling miner, facing to l., gold washing pan in hands; above, around Souvenir; below, around Days of '49.
Rev. Miner, standing beside burro, both facing to r.; above, around Sacramento; below, around Heart of California

HK-502 Lead, gold-plated. 38mm.