Citizens of Oregon returning from the California gold fields in 1849 brought with them quantities of gold dust and nuggets. The Oregon Legislature on February 15, 1849, passed an act which provided for the establishment of a territorial mint. However, the governor declared this act to be in contravention to the laws of the United States, and plans were terminated. To remedy the situation a group of eight prominent merchants and citizens banded together to establish a private mint. The principals were W.K. Kilborne, Theophilus Magruder, James Taylor, George Abernathy, W H. Wilson, William H. Rector, J. G. Campbell, and Noyes Smith. The firm was designated as the Oregon Exchange Co. Hamilton Campbell, a Methodist missionary, was employed to cut dies for a $5 coin. Victor Wallace, a machinist, engraved the dies for a coin of the $10 denomination. The coins produced were to be virgin gold without alloy. The $5 gold dies bore on the obverse the initials K.M.T.A.W.R.G.S., representing the names of the company members. The G was an error and should have been C for Campbell. The obverse of the $5 piece pictured a beaver on a log, facing to the right, the same animal which, being a trademark of the Territory, was earlier used on the North West Co. tokens. Below was the designation T. O. for Territory of Oregon, and below that, the year 1849, with branches to the sides. On the reverse appeared the notation OREGON EXCHANGE COMPANY, 130 G. NATIVE GOLD 5 D. The pieces contained 130 grains of gold or nearly 5-1/2 pennyweight. Coinage amounted to approximately 6,000 of the $5 pieces and 2,850 $10 coins. These were accepted as legal tender throughout the Oregon Territory, which at that time included the present states of Oregon and Washington and all land toward the east reaching to the Rocky Mountains. Many of the Oregon issues were sent to California in payment for merchandise. Eventually, nearly all were melted. By a decade after the original issue, only a small number of Oregon coins existed.
Diameter: 23 mm
24k gold layered lead-free fine pewter.
This coin is stamped with the word copy.
Packaged in a coin collecting flip with the description of coin printed on flip insert.
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