Monday, January 18, 2010


A friend of mine informed me that at one time, Oregon had minted their own coins of gold (Thanks Doyle!).
He even sent me links to read all about it.  Briefly, here are the facts:
Gold coins once minted by the Provisional Government of the Oregon Territory in the late 1840's were known as Beaver coins and Beaver money (fitting for Oregon).
These coins were available in $5 and $10 dollar denominations.
The Provisional Territorial Legislature at Champoeg allowed the Oregon Exchange Company to mint the Beaver coin currency. Medorum Crawford and W.J. Martin, two legislature members, voted against the measure. While the U.S. Constitution expressly forbids political entities of the U.S. to produce coinage, it was argued by the Provisional Government of the Oregon Territory that "necessity knows no laws."
It was also be argued that during the Anglo-American joint occupation of Oregon, the territory was not officially part of either government, and any established government could act as it wished.  Although the Oregon Exchange Company was a private organization, the territorial legislature set the coin's values, authorized a mint, and appointed the officers to the mint. The legislative acts provided for an assayer, melter and coiner, and an alloy was forbidden in the money.  It had to be pure gold.. The officers of this mint were James Taylor, director, Truman P. Powers, treasurer, W.H. Willson, melter and coiner and George L. Curry, assayer. Nobody was ever prosecuted for issuing this money, although it was a clear violation of the constitution and laws of the United States.
Only two pieces were authorized to be coined; one to weigh five pennyweights, and one ten pennyweights. The mint was located in Oregon City, Oregon. (Another historical fact of Oregon City!)
On one side of the five-dollar piece was a beaver surrounded above by the letters "K.M.T.A.W.R.C.S." These letters were the initials of the associates in the enterprise. Beneath the beaver were the letters, "O.T. 1849." Upon the reverse side of the coin were the words "Oregon Exchange Company, 130 G. Native Gold, 5D." The ten-dollar piece differed slightly in the legends. On the one side was engraved the beaver surmounted by seven stars, over which were the letters "K.M.T.R.C.S." Beneath the beaver, "O.T. 1849." On the reverse side were the words "Oregon Exchange Company, 10D. 20G. Native Gold, 10D."
Between March and September of 1849, the Oregon Exchange Company struck $10 and $5 dollar coins by hand, in Oregon City. The mint succeeded in coining less than $50,000 of these coins before Governor Joseph Lane reached Oregon and ruled the operation unconstitutional.
The formal U.S. Government's reaction to the coins was to buy them up at a premium rate in exchange for U.S. currency. The coins were called up by the San Francisco Mint and taken out of circulation.
Most of the Oregon coinage was melted down for profit. The mint ceased all operation early in September 1849.



In 2006, one of the $5 coins sold for $125,000 to a collector.
Wonder what they would have paid for the $10 coin?  Double??
Any of you have one of these squirreled away?
Sure wish I did!!


  1. Hi Rose,
    Oh Goody! You're up late and giving us more brain teasing facts. Well, I've always wanted a metal detector, but I notice at all the State Historical sites, there are signs that prohibit removal of anything that one finds. Phooey! I'd even settle for an old button.
    Great facts. Thanks

  2. You are having such a lot of fun! Are you taking a class, or just getting all historical on us?

  3. I have heard an undocumented claim that an unknown quantity of $5 coins were buried near a Sacagawea statue. Has anyone heard this or know anything about it?

  4. Which Sacagawea statue? There are several in the USA. There is one on Lewis and Clark College campus which was also used for the design on the Sacagawea dollar. I read of nothing concerning gold coins buried there.

  5. Did any one make reproductions of the O.T. 1849?