Another Colorado gold rush

The Edward C. Rochette Money Museum, operated by the American Numismatic Association (ANA) in Colorado Springs, Colo., has unveiled an expansion of its “California Gold Rush” exhibit.

The permanent exhibit showcases the California gold rush as seen through the instruments that were essential for processing bullion: scales and weights. The exhibit was made possible through a donation from the Gerard A. Smith Collection.

Notable instruments on display include a giant scale used at the Denver Mint, as well as handheld scales used by miners and prospectors in the gold fields. Also on display is a scale model replica of a Wells Fargo “Concord” stagecoach. First introduced in 1827, the Concord stagecoach was designed for freight and passenger service; Wells Fargo adopted the Concord for its passenger, mail and bullion service in 1852.

“Donations of this type help to make the ANA’s educational mission possible and enables the Money Museum to enhance exhibits and displays by illustrating the history of our country through numismatic objects,” said Doug Mudd, Money Museum curator and director.


The California gold rush began in 1848 with James Wilson Marshall’s historic find at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, Calif. The world became electrified as rumours of a gold discovery spread; within months, 300,000 potential miners stampeded west to the new promise land of mineral riches.

A key precursor to the development of money was the creation of a system of weights and measures. The balance (also known as the balance scale, beam balance or laboratory balance) was the first mass measuring instrument invented. Scales have been used in the U.S. since the colonial period to weigh coins, accurately calculate their value and to detect counterfeits. Scales were also essential to miners and mining areas in order to properly weigh gold and silver bullion.


The Money Museum includes an extensive and ever-growing collection of historical numismatic treasures. This one-of-a-kind facility showcases some of the most valuable and significant numismatic items the public cannot see anywhere else. Rarities include a 1913 Liberty Head nickel valued at $2 million and two of the 15 known 1804 dollars valued together at $6 million.

In March, to the museum opened the “Olympic Games—History & Numismatics” exhibit, which features rare Syracusan dekadrachms (Greek coins) from the sixth century B.C.; a 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics bronze medallion designed by the famed Karl Goetz; a complete set of award medals from the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics and 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics courtesy of the U.S. Olympic Committee; plus participation medals, torches and even a few mascots.

The Money Museum is located at 818 N. Cascade Ave, adjacent to the campus of Colorado College and next door to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Museum hours of operation are TuesdaySaturday,10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $5 ($4 for seniors, military and students). Children 12-and-under are free.

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