GOLD OF CALIFORNIA  :   HUNGARIAN „PROSPECTORS” IN THE WILD WEST

8 March 2019 - 28 May 2019

GOLD OF CALIFORNIA : HUNGARIAN „PROSPECTORS” IN THE WILD WEST

Place Hungarian National Museum, Budapest, Múzeum krt. 14-16, 1088, HUNGARY
Organizer Hungarian National Museum
More info https://mnm.hu/en/exhibitions/temporary/gold-california

The first world-wide gold rush commenced on 24 January, 1848 when in Coloma, in the vicinity of the river American the first nuggets were found ont he building site of a sawmill. The news spread swiftly, by August everyone became aware of the discovery. In the first wave of the gold rush fortune hunters arrived mostly from distant regions and also from Latin America but as the news got round, immigation started from all over the world. Members of the gold rush generation called 49-ers (Forty-Niners) were not only Americans, a lot of them came from Australia and China but Europeans emigrating after the 1848 revolutions arrived in large numbers, among them Hungarians. As the United States Mint was only founded in 1854 in San Francisco and did not function smoothly in the first years, everyday circulation was ensured by gold dollar coins minted largely by private firms, among them Hungarians.

Count Sámuel Wass came from a family of Transylvanian aristocrats and expressed great interest in natural sciences from his youth. He travelled to New York but boarded a ship again on hearing the news of the gold rush and together with his Hungarian companions, Károly Uznay and Ede Damburghy arrived in San Francisco on 7 September 1850. He founded Wass, Molitor &Co. assaying office in 1851 with Ágoston Molitor and Károly Uznay as partners. They used the most up-to-date technology. The company was able to process the raw material provided by the gold diggers and also effect payment in 48 hours as opposed to the official assay office of the United States which performed this process in 8 days. Between 1852 and 1855 their office issued 5, 10, 20 and 50 dollar gold coins sending a copy of each to the Hungarian National Museum. Wass, Molitor & Co. ceased operation officially on 17 March 1857 and their activity was taken over by Haraszthy, Uznay &Co.

The Wass, Molitor & Co. gold coins of the Hungarian National Museum (gift of Samuel Wass in 1855) were certified by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.