Content of the Collection
Browse the Collection

Colonial
1600s-1774

Revolutionary
1775-1781

Early Federal
1782-1820s

Bechtler Gold Coins
1831-1850s

North Carolina Paper Money 1830s-1860

North Carolina Civil War Issues 1861-1865

Exhibit Home

Bechtler Gold Coinage [1831-1850s]

Herman Bernard Herman Bernard

Gold Hill, Gold Pit Creek, Golden Valley, Gold Mine Branch—these and other similar names can be found today on modern maps of North Carolina. They are names that recall an important part of this state’s past, a time when the ring of picks and the rumble of explosives echoed throughout the foothills of western North Carolina. There, decades before the more famous gold strike in California in 1848, prospectors and miners panned, dug, and blasted millions of dollars in gold from the rocky terrain. During the peak years of gold production in North Carolina, between the late 1820s and 1830s, the state’s mining industry employed over 30,000 people and ranked second only agriculture in its importance to the economy.

Today, the coins that survive from the Bechtler family’s mint in Rutherford County also serve as reminders of North Carolina’s rich gold history. High-grade examples of the dollars, “quarter eagles” ($2.50), and “half eagles” ($5.00) produced by the Bechtlers are preserved in the University Library and are on permanent exhibit in the North Carolina Collection Gallery in Wilson Library. Herman Bernard of High Point, N.C., donated a superb twenty-four-coin set of Bechtler gold to the university in 1981.

Just two months before his death in January 1999, Herman Bernard attended the opening of the North Carolina Collection Gallery’s “Hard Cash & Hard Times” exhibition. In the image above, at that event, the High Point collector sits next to the special safe in which his donated set of Bechtler coins are on permanent display.

See all the images from Bechtler Gold.