From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.

Pioneer Leavenworth Bankers Had Private Mint in Denver

by George Remsburg

Leavenworth Times, September 12, 1943

Are there any persons living who recall the pioneer banking firm of Clark, Gruber and Company of Leavenworth and Denver, and does anyone have in their possession any of the gold coins issued by this firm in Denver in 1860-61? If anyone happens to have any of these coins they undoubtedly are the possessors of numismatic rarities of great value.

The privately-operated mint of Clark, Gruber and Company was really the nucleus of the present United States mint in Denver, or at least for the incentive for its establishment in 1863. On April 21, 1862, a United States statute, providing that a branch of e U.S. mint be located in Denver was passed. On March 3 of the following year, President Lincoln approved a senate joint resolution which authorized the secretary of the treasury to purchase lots and improvements of Clark, Gruber and Company for use as the headquarters of the branch U.S. mint in Denver. Clark, Gruber and Company began issuing coins in Denver, July 20, 1860, and the movement for the establishment of a U.S. mint there, as is seen above, was started soon afterward.

Albert D. Richardson, a distinguished New York newspaper correspondent, writing from Denver, under date of July 10, 1860, during the Pike's Peak gold rush. (Kansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. XII, No. ? says: "Messrs. Clark, Gruber and Company, the well-known Leavenworth bankers, have completed a large brick building, and will commence operation in a few days. ? to a general banking ? they will issue coin with their own stamp upon it, in denomination of $20, $10, $5 and $2.50. they have the best of facilities for assaying, and design to have their coin (which will only be alloyed by the silver which is mingled with it) so pure that it will be worth par at the mint. Their machinery for preparing and striking the coin is extensive and excellent, and will enable them to turn out $50,000 per day, should the demands of the country require it. They will manufacture about $10,000 at the first minting, which is expected to be completed this week. On account of its great superiority over gold dust, in point of convenience for circulation, their coin will undoubtedly be largely in demand."

Thomas W. Knox, a Boston press correspondent, writing from Denver, the day before Richardson wrote the above, further describes the coins, or at least a pattern piece of one that was shown him. He says: "It bears on one side the ever-prominent American Eagle, and the words, 'Clark, Gruber & Co.' near the edge of the coin, with the date '1860,' in the usual place. On the reverse is a picture of the 'Peak' with the words 'Pike's Peak Gold' above, and 'Denver' beneath it. 'Ten D' appears in its appropriate position."

The Clark, Gruber and Company banking firm was established in Leavenworth in 1857, by Milton E. and Austin M. Clark, brothers, and E. H. Gruber. They opened a branch house in Denver in 1859.

As aforestated coins of four different denominations were issued by this firm in 1860. In 1861 a similar set was minted. The Colorado Historical Society has a complete set (eight) of these coins.

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