Only the second known Parsons & Co. monetary ingot sold for an undisclosed six-figure sum at the recent ANA Convention in New York City. The only known specimen prior to this piece has rested in the National Collection at the Smithsonian Institute since 1968.
The pedigree of the tiny one ounce $20 face value specimen is said to have come from the wealthy Huntington family of California whose ancestors built an empire in the railroad industry in the 19th Century and are credited with building the transcontinental railroad. Dwight Manley of Newport Beach, CA purchased the ingot several years ago from a Beverly Hills coin dealer who had acquired it from Edwards Huntington Metcalf who died in 2001 at the age of 89. He was the grandson of Henry Edwards Huntington, the nephew of railroad tycoon Collis P. Huntington, certainly a man with the means to save such a treasure.
Struck from gold extracted from the Taryall Mines in Colorado, the Parsons ingots are significantly different than the much larger ingots recovered from the SS Central America. Yet, these ingots still command a very large sum of money due to their rarity and significance even though there is some doubt surrounding their authenticity.
Bob Evans, the curator for the SS Central America artifacts, is conducting authenticity testing and has said that he is not yet ready to release his findings from the examinations of the two Parsons ingots. He said he has examined the Smithsonian piece extensively, as well as the Manley specimen, but has not physically examined both, side by side. I had dinner with Mr. Evans at the opening of the $10 million Isle of Capri exhibit and he is very excited about his studies and said they are consistent with all historical data and believes them both to be authentic. Although he did say that further study needs to be done and enthusiastically plans to continue his work, Evans said, “The objects have to speak rather than the historical record.”
Nonetheless the sale and the undisclosed “six-figure” price may be the only study one needs to make!