So-Called Dollars


Medal was struck privately for presentation "on or about" March 18, 1902 "to each Company's service year" or more; over 5,000 distributed. Large celebration had been planned, cancelled following death of company President John J. Valentine, main proponent of festivities. Single example in gold presented to Messenger Charles Charles. Research fails to establish identities of designer or striking firm.

Wells Fargo's name survives forever in our history--with emphasis, of course, on entire West--as principal agency in extending our early frontiers, in permanent settlement of that area and in assisting and protecting those who came first. This express and banking business launched by Vermont-born Henry F. Wells and New Yorker William G. Fargo at 114 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, to serve Gold Rush California and United States. By 1880, there were 573 Wells Fargo Offices, Agents and Correspondents in West (100 in California Mother Lode), company "absolutely guaranteeing" their handling and delivery of gold.

U.S. Postal Service then restricted to California coast towns so mail deliveries to remote locations quickly became important function. Their Concord Coaches, Drivers and Shotgun Messengers are legendary.

In 1895, U.S. took over entire mail service from 400 western express companies. In 1918, under World War I emergency powers, Government merged all express under American Railway Express. Only in Mexico and Cuba did Wells Fargo live on, performing its original functions and trusted by all. Banking operations, however, have continued in U.S. and today, surviving corporate entity is Wells Fargo & Co., still headquartered San Francisco, with over 3,000 banking branches in more than 20 states, in addition to significant presence in other financial areas.

Photos courtesy of Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

Obv. Upper, stage coach scene; on ribbon, across Wells Fargo & Company; below Pony Express scene.
Rev. Scene of ship, factory, train (microscopic Wells Fargo / and / Company / Express on baggage car), quill pens and keys; clenched upright hand below emitting sparks or rays; across center, on ribbon 1852 March 18th 1902; below Express and Banking; at bottom Fidelity.

HK-296 Silver. 40mm.
In original presentation case *
HK-296a Gold. 40mm.

* Original presentation case is dark maroon leatherette jeweler's box, approx. 2 1/2 in. sq., blue velvet and satin lined. Inside lid Wells Fargo & Company / March 18th, 1852. / March 18th, 1902.

HK-292 to HK-295a