The “N” reversed Bechtler gold dollar is quite possibly the most famous blundered gold coin in the Red Book. How this coin came to be struck remain a mystery, but the error could have actually been done on purpose. Not that there was enough attention to the inscriptions to distinguish these “Carolina” coins from those struck earlier in “North Carolina” also using 28G, but other subtle differences between these circulating coins were employed so as not to concern the spending public but to identify the source of the coin. C. Bechtler (the senior) could have insisted on the reversing of the “N” for a number of reasons, especially so that the coins he was producing would be confused with those being made by C. Bechtler his nephew.
The present example is a gloriously toned specimen, completely original and endorsed by CAC. A thorough study of the images of similar examples sold at auction over the past ten years shows most other Mint State examples are typically brighter in appearance. This coin is also struck form widely rotated dies, which does not effect the value.
North Carolina, 1831-1846. The assay office and mint established by the Bechtler family in 1830 at Rutherford County and Rutherfordton has the distinction of being the earliest and longest operating private gold mints in the United States. Up until the California gold rush of 1848, it struck more coins than any other private mint, totaling $2,241,850.50 in coinage from January 1831 to February 1840 alone. Although the Bechtler family continued to conduct business until 1846, not only did their output of gold coinage rival that of the Philadelphia mint, Bechtler coins circulated within the Southeastern United States more frequently than those struck by any of the United States mints. During the Civil war many Confederate contracts specified payment in Bechtler gold rather than Confederate currency or federal specie. Furthermore, the Bechtlers introduced the gold dollar into circulation, seventeen years before the United States government issued the same in 1849 at the Philadelphia, Dahlonega and Charlotte mints.
The notable increase in gold production in Rutherford County let the Bechtlers to open their mint. The Bechtlers were skilled artisans. They set up as jewelers and also worked as gunsmiths, miners, and precious metal refiners. On July 2, 1831 they advertised that they would be able to smelt, refine and coin the raw gold from the local mines. All the dies and machinery for striking the coins were made by members of the family. The mine operated at its peak from 1831 to 1842 – when Christopher Bechtler, Sr. died. It continued with a reduced output under his son Augustus Bechtler until 1846.
The geographical inscriptions found on the Bechtler coins were used to indicate the quality of the gold used. Those of 20 carats were stamped “North Carolina Gold”; those of 21 carats, “Carolina Gold”; while the highest grade of 22 carats were marked “Georgia Gold.” They were issued in the three denominations of $1.00, $2.50 and $5.00. All the pieces were somewhat undervalued.