Copyright © 2011-2018 John N. Lupia III
 Last revised March 12, 2017, 8:30 A.M. E.S.T.

Fig. 1. Nathan Joseph, the "Curio Man", Courtesy California Historical Society, De Young Collection, CHS2017_2263. This portrait photograph c. 1900, Hartsook Studio, San Francisco, shows Nathan Joseph with his face coiffured in stylish muttonchops, and adorned in his suit, cravat, and the classic glimpse of his pocket-watch fob


        The Joseph Brothers are three men who emerge in American numismatic history as pioneers of California fractional gold. They were third generation English born Jews who came to America and established various businesses in San Francisco, California, and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The two elder brothers Josephus and Lionel Joseph, returned to England between 1867 and 1869 while the youngest, Nathan Joseph remained lifelong at San Francisco.
        After very careful research it appears that the two eldest brothers, Josephus and Lionel Joseph, most probably had no part in the production of any sort of California fractional gold coins. This, unfortunately, can not also be said of their younger brother Nathan who probably began either making them or hawking them as early as 1880. By 1880 we begin to find a flooding of the market with these fake California fractional gold coins being peddled under the euphemism of souvenirs.
        There will always be differences in opinion regarding the subject of the Joseph Brothers as coiners of California fractional gold. Each researcher provides evidence to support their view either in favor of attributing or against attributing coins to them. Any book or article published either for or against the Joseph Brothers attribution should always be a welcomed item in numismatic literature and is certainly a healthy sign of sincere and honest research which benefits the community as a whole. Karl Popper established years ago the rules of falsifiability and the discovery of scientific truth. If we independently set out doing the hard research to discover the material facts we should arrive at the same or similar conclusions. When we find disparate results so different then usually one of two things have gone wrong, or both. Either wrong data got into the mix or else subjective interpretation.  "This success of my endeavors was due, I believe, to a rule of 'method': that we should always try to clarify and to strengthen our opponent's position as much as possible before criticizing him, if we wish our criticism to be worth while." [Sir Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1968), p. 260 n.*5] Conflict and disagreement are unavoidable in our pluralistic order.  What matters is how we respond to conflict. Rather than an "adversarial" or "confrontational" style of argumentation, where the other is viewed as an opponent, in a dialogical encounter one begins with the assumption that the other has something to contribute to our understanding. The initial task is to grasp the other's position in the strongest possible light, in which we can understand our differences. The other is not really an adversary or an opponent, but a conversational partner. One does not seek to score a point by exploiting the other's weaknesses; rather, one seeks to strengthen the other's argument as much as possible so as to render it plausible, a dialogical encounter where we reasonably explore our differences and conflicts. Assumptions are widely variant and controversial--readers and researchers are likely to fall on both or several different sides in what could become a very heated discussion. “Anyone who in discussion relies upon authority uses, not his understanding, but his memory.”-- Leonardo Da Vinci. "I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my
friends, the old and the new." --  Ralph Waldo Emerson.
        This essay is dedicated to the great leadership that piloted American numismatics in the first decade of the twentieth century. These were noble men who sounded the battle cry against bogus California fractional gold coins. Among them were the illustrious key men of the American Numismatic Society of New York , and the American Numismatic Association, the two giant guardian organizations of the hobby and profession : Henry Russell Drowne, William T. R. Marvin, Edgar Holmes Adams, to mention the most outspoken on this issue; men, who did their best to end and silence this influx of counterfeit coin into the market place and to keep them out of collections of innocent collectors who did not know they were being taken. (see Figs. 13 & 43 below)
        Taking free license as a writer I am compelled to slightly stretch the literal meaning of those immortal words of Abraham Lincoln : "Four score and seven years ago" since it was just about that time frame although back in 1910 to this day when this essay is being written that the noble American numismatists just cited above sounded the battle cry against bogus California fractional gold coins. May the reader benefit from their great wisdom and enjoy the hobby having learned much insight from these great luminaries. As the adage goes, "A word to the wise is sufficient."

*   *   *   *

        The paterfamilias is Joseph Yechiel Joseph (1730-c. 1790) and his wife Elizabeth Goldsmith (1735-1803), who moved from Mannheim, Baden-Wuerttemberg to Cornwall, England in 1760. His son Lyon Joseph (1775-1821), was born at Cornwall as was his son Barnet Lyon Joseph.  It is from this second generation of English born Josephs that the three well-known Joseph brothers are derived. However, Robert D. Leonard, Jr., in Breen/Gillio 2d edition page 26 has Simon Joseph of Wakefield, England as the paterfamilias. Simon Joseph was a silversmith in Liverpool, England listed in Gore's Directory of Silversmiths, as cited by J. Wolfman, "Liverpool Jewry in the Eighteenth Century - Part 2". Leonard then says, "While the exact relationship is uncertain, the Joseph brothers of San Francisco must have been fifth or sixth in descent from Simon Joseph." Objectively, we do not know of any relationship between Simon Joseph and the Joseph family that the San Francisco, California, Joseph Brothers & Co. belong, granted that one might exist with some line of consanguinity, but unknown. They do not have to be direct descendants but could be relatives of some degree such as cousins or distant cousins.   The Joseph family of our brief biographical sketch was a very intellectually gifted and affluent one with family on the Stock Exchange in London and all members engaged in various successful entrepreneurial business ventures. The three Joseph Brothers are each estimated to have died with a net worth of several million dollars.

            Little or no information has surfaced regarding Barnet Lyon Joseph's two eldest sons Abraham (1820-?) and Henry (1824-1896).  Abraham Joseph does not appear to be identical with the Exchange house in New York of Silberman and Joseph. That Abraham Joseph was born in Ireland and moved to Cincinnati and then to New York. 

          Josephus Barnet Joseph (1827-1916), was born the fourth of fourteen children, son of Barnet Lyon Joseph (1801-1880), a Silversmith, and Betsy Jacobs Joseph (1801-1889), at Bristol, Gloucestershire, England. According to the 1851 English Census he lived at 31-32 South Castle Street, Liverpool, and worked as a watchmaker.This fact militates against his established firm in San Francisco in 1850. What is probably meant by the later advertisements in California newspapers that the Joseph Brothers were established in 1850 is the reference to their Liverpool business.  J. B. Joseph arrived in New York May 7, 1852 from Liverpool on the S. S. Europa. Sometime thereafter in August he arrived at San Francisco, California and was united with his brother Lionel Barnet Joseph with whom he formed a partnership in several business enterprises. 

Fig. 2. S. S. Europa, Passenger List, May 7, 1852, New York Harbor. The list clearly cites "Josephus B. Joseph" a 24 year-old "Male" "Merchant" from Great Britain, who arrived in New York sailing from Liverpool, England. Robert D. Leonard, Jr., cited a different source showing a "J. Joseph" arriving in San Francisco on November 21, 1850 aboard the S. S. California which sailed from Panama. The lists of passengers was published in Alta California, November 21, 1850. Unfortunately, "J. Joseph" is insufficient evidence to rely on since it could very well have stood for any number of persons with the initial J including the female gender. Moreover, we have not seen the actual passenger list, which identifies gender, but merely a newspaper reporters transcription that may have made an error. Additionally, the Joseph Brothers were not the only people in San Francisco with the surname Joseph. This should include also the family name Josephi which could easily be mistaken as Joseph and may have been a common mistake referring to these different families. Further still, there were two firms called Joseph Brothers & Co., in San Francisco : the jewelers and the textile workers. Whereas, the passenger list of the S. S. Europa cited above clearly refers to "Josephus B. Joseph" without any doubt or ambiguity and is therefore a more reliable document as evidence. However, in the realm of possibilities, and to be fair to Robert D. Leonard, Jr.,  for the sake of argument I shall grant the concession that "J. Joseph" could have been Josephus Barnet Joseph who stayed briefly then went back to Liverpool only to return on May 7, 1852. An advertisement of the Joseph Brothers was published in the Sacramento Daily Union, January 19, 1852, page 3, which confirms one or both brothers were in San Francisco with a shop at least by January 1, 1852. However, it still provides no evidence whatsoever that the Joseph Brothers made gold half dollars and quarters; unless, of course, the ad is an ad selling them. Now that would be a great discovery, but one I seriously doubt taking as a whole all the evidence we have so far. The entire argument that the Joseph Brothers made these fractional gold coins in 1852 is exclusively based on Nathan Joseph's claim in his 1910 circular, which we shall see shortly below. The great experts in the field of numismatics at the time of Nathan Joseph's circular discounted the claims of anyone selling souvenir gold and considered them, as we shall see, as things to be avoided. On this note I quote the words of the great and illustrious Edgar Holmes Adams who cautiously warns coin collectors about bogus California fractional gold coins reading between the lines :  "Very little need was felt for gold of the smaller values, and extremely few such pieces were issued by the private mints.  Coinage was confined to denominations of  Five Dollars and above, and specimens of lower value are nearly all trial pieces or Patterns, which were never issued for regular circulation. Facilities were so limited that these lower values could not have been made to advantage. A large profit was necessary, for without it private coiners could not have operated successfully, owing to the extreme high cost of labor and materials in 1849 and the early fifties."  Edgar Holmes Adams, Private Gold Coinage of California, 1849-55, Its History and Its Issues (1913) : 99. (see also Fig. 42 below) In other words, the 1852 California gold half-dollar known to exist was a rarity even its day and could only have been produced by affluent and extremely able diesinkers and coiners who had the financial wherewithal giving them the advantage to have produced them. The earliest known California private half dollar of historical record is not even listed in the Breen/Gillio 2d edition, but rather, in Edgar Holmes Adams, Private Gold Coinage of California, 1849-55, Its History and Its Issues (1913) : 109, identifying that of Heinrich Schaeffer in figure 103, dating 1849 and 1850. On the obverse an open olive wreath with legend HALF /DOLLAR/ CALIFORNIA. In exergue below the wreath the date. The reverse design of an Eagle with outspread wings grasping an olive branch and three arrows in its talons. The Five Dollar trial piece of Heinrich Schaeffer was first discovered by Samuel Hudson Chapman in 1912. Schaeffer was a friend of Alt Christoph Bechtler and his son Augustus, and made dies for various denominations including the half dollar at California intending to coin them in gold.

            According to Sarah H. Tobe, curator of the Joseph Brothers exhibition titled : “Josephus Barnet Joseph and Lionel Barnet Joseph, Early Jewish Real Estate Investors of Victoria, BC,” at the Jewish Museum of the American West, September 2014. among their earliest venture they were engaged in the produce trade to the Sandwich Islands. When the news of gold on the Fraser River, British Columbia, Canada reached San Francisco the eldest brother went to Victoria, British Columbia in 1858 bringing building material for sale at auction to raise funds for real estate investments there. He took the proceeds and began to purchase tracts of land. Not long afterwards Lionel joined his brother there. They travelled back and forth to Victoria always returning to San Francisco. About December 1869, or possibly earlier, Josephus Barnet Joseph returned to England and lived at 78 Westbourne Terrace, Hyde Park, Bayswater, Middlesex County, London W, England. He died July 18, 1916 at Hampstead, London, England.

Lionel Barnet Joseph (1829-1905), was born the sixth of fourteen children at Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland, England. The year of his birth is confirmed in the 1881 England Census – Kensington, which records his age as 42. The 1891 England Census – Kent, Ramsgate, records him as 61. The 1905 Death Index records his age as 78. However the "Necrology" section of  New Era Illustrated Magazine, Vol. 6, No. 6, June (1905) : 660, mistakenly claims in the obituary that Lionel was born in 1827 and reverses the two brothers’ chronology (Josephus and Lionel). Unfortunately, this error has crept into the literature and has surfaced in recent reports by Sarah H. Tobe, curator of the Joseph Brothers exhibition titled : “Josephus Barnet Joseph and Lionel Barnet Joseph, Early Jewish Real Estate Investors of Victoria, BC,” at the Jewish Museum of the American West, September 2014. His address was that of his father, 42 Bold Street, Liverpool, where he worked as a silversmith.

        According to San Fransisco ship passenger lists a man named L. B. Joseph arrived in 1850. [1] If this man is identical with our Lionel Barnet Joseph then we can safely conclude that he arrived in San Francisco on December 11, 1850. However, retracing my steps recently in February 2017 I could no longer find this document to verify it leaving me puzzled and now in doubt. However, James Webber was kind enough to refer me to the Sacramento Transcript, December 14, 1850 that lists L. B. Joseph who arrived on the S.S. Panama on the 11th. Again, if this man is identical with our Lionel Barnet Joseph then we find him in San Francisco at the end of 1850, but that is still a very uncertain "if". So far the earliest establishment of one or both Joseph Brothers in San Francisco is to at least January 1, 1852. Regardless, four years after joining his brother Josephus at Victoria in 1858 he married Katie L. Joseph (1842-1912), on October 29, 1862, and beginning five years hence they had four children; first a son Leonard (born at Norwood, England in 1867) and afterwards three daughters. Although Lionel Barnet Joseph is listed in San Francisco City Directories up to 1869 he appears to have left in 1867 as the "close-out" advertisements in the newspapers suggest when they decided to close their shop and returned to England with his wife moving to Norwood, Surrey. * NOTE Robert D. Leonard, Jr.,  makes the claim that Lionel, Josephus and Nathan lived at 619 Montgomery Street in 1868; and that Lionel left for England in 1869, with Josephus following in 1870. (see Robert D. Leonard, Jr., "Joseph Brothers" in Breen/Gillio, California Pioneer Fractional Gold (Bowers and Merena Galleries, 2nd Revised edition, 2003) : 26, says it was 619 Montgomery, citing a reference to Robert J. Chandler, "A Few Words on the Joseph Brothers : Coiners in Period I and III," Brasher Bulletin, Vol. 13, No. 1 (mismarked Vol. 12, No. 2), pp. 35-9.)  Regardless, back in England Lionel devoted his life to engineering projects designing and patenting what eventually became the tramway rail system. He died on May 2, 1905 at Kensington, London, England.

            Were the Joseph Brothers the earliest Period I California Fractional Gold Makers? 

        It has been incorrectly supposed that from 1850-1854 the two Joseph Brothers formed a company at 175-1/2  Clay Street, San Francisco. The Kimball's San Francisco City Directory of 1850 neither lists the Joseph Brothers as a company nor individually. Some American numismatic literature including the Breen/Gillio, California Pioneer Fractional Gold (Bowers and Merena Galleries, 2nd Revised edition, 2003) claims the firm was established in 1851. Russ Rulau might correctly say they were at that address from 1851-1854, since new documentary evidence could possibly show that the Joseph Brothers were in San Francisco before January 1852. This makes it difficult to reconcile other documentary evidence that Josephus did not arrive to New York, New York until May 7, 1852 and to San Francisco sometime in August or later. [2]  So it seems very clear that one Joseph Brother, obviously Lionel, was certainly in San Francisco with a shop on Clay Street at least by January 1, 1852. However, as we have seen Lionel B. Joseph may have arrived at San Francisco as early as December 1850. 

Fig. 3. State of California Census, October 15, 1852, showing on lines 40 and 41 L. B. Joseph, Watchmaker, from England, Liverpool, and his brother J. B. "ditto" including the surname and respectively across for all columns.  The only odd detail that is inconsistent with the other documentary evidence is the designated ages with L. B. Joseph age 24 and J. B. Joseph age 34.

        Recently, Dr. Chandler in "Fractionals Are Fun : A History of Fractional Gold in Letters and Published Media : Cal Fractional Gold Coins and the U. S. Mail," Holabird-Kagin Americana, March 25, 2013, cited a quotation from a Louisiana newspaper published in June 1852 claiming it identified the half dollar gold coin as minted by the Joseph Brothers, only repeating the earlier claim by Breen/Gillio and Robert D. Leonard, Jr. in Breen/Gillio, California Pioneer Fractional Gold (Bowers and Merena Galleries, 2nd Revised edition, 2003). Note in the first edition of Breen/Gillio (1983)  it is catalogue No. BG 427. In Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U. S. and Colonial Coins (1988), it is catalogue No. 7879, whom Breen assigned to Antoine Louis Nouizillet.  In the E-Sylum, Vol. 20, No. 4, January 22, 2017, Robert D. Leonard wrote : "Dr. Chandler is not wrong in associating this fully-described piece with the Joseph Brothers, based on what we know of their issues." However, this is abundantly not apparent when doing careful research, but the opposite seems to be the appropriate conclusion. What historical documentary evidence exists linking the Joseph Brothers to coining California fractional gold? What the evidence shall show is that the Times-Picayune, Tuesday, June 29, 1852 article cited a coin that is neither a Joseph Brothers piece described in the catalogue created in both editions of the Breen/Gillio, nor that described and illustrated in the Nathan Joseph circular. Therefore the above discussion shall prove to be a moot point in the sense of being irrelevant to any discussion regarding the Joseph Brothers. Moreover, there is no reason whatsoever to assume the gold Half Dollar described in the Times-Picayune is necessarily a product minted at California at all. The legend "California Gold" only claims that the gold of the souvenir token was mined in California, not necessarily the site of its manufacture. The news report never says the gold half dollar was a private issue made in California, only "California money . . . of a private issue". It is widely known that many or most of these souvenir bangles, trinkets, charms, or whatever else you prefer to call these tchotches, (chachkies), were made in various states other than California. It is rather curious that something as significant as this new Half Dollar is first talked about in Louisiana, not California, and that a California newspaper picked up the story later on.  That, in itself, suggests the Half Dollar might not have originated in California. Furthermore, it is significant that the legend "California Gold" is stamped on this trinket since it would be typical of a souvenir piece capitalizing on the fame of the "California Gold Rush" by an early entrepreneur who seized the idea in 1852. Templeton Reid Ten Dollars is stamped "Georgia Gold", the Bechtlers stamped their coins "Carolina Gold", Norris, Gregg & Norris of San Francisco stamped their gold coins "California Gold", but all of these examples are of known coiners who stamped these pieces with their mark or name making them readily identifiable. The anonymous "California Gold" Half Dollar of 1852 lends itself to be classified as a souvenir piece or a trial piece, but the former seems more likely since Jacob Eckfeldt and William E. Du Bois never mention them in their, New Varieties of Gold and Silver Coins, published in 1852.


Figs. 4 - 6. Top : News report of the earliest known Period I California fractional gold half dollar, Time-Picayune, Tuesday, June 29, 1852, page 1. Middle : are the obverse and reverse of the 1852 U. S. Mint gold dollar, Type 1 - Closed Wreath, diameter = 13mm. Bottom : Detail of the so-called Joseph Brothers 1852 fractional gold published by Nathan Joseph in 1910. 
            The newspaper article compares the U. S. Mint issued gold dollar design to that of the new half dollar. This new half dollar should clone the obverse while the reverse bearing the legend about the rim HALF . DOLLAR / CALIFORNIA GOLD [and centered the date] 1852,  Time-Picayune, Tuesday, June 29, 1852, page 1. Note : Robert D. Leonard claims he discovered this Picayune, 1852 newspaper article in his letter to the E-Sylum, Vol. 20, No. 4, January 22, 2017 "I discovered this article myself in the History Room of the New Orleans Public Library while researching the book, having figured out approximately when it appeared." However, Walter Breen published it in Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U. S. and Colonial Coins (1988) : 641, with no reference to Leonard nor any citation of him in the bibliography. In February 2017 I received a very gracious email from James Webber pointing out the original February 1949 notice published in Numismatic Scrapbook, page 196, that Breen obviously quoted without giving reference. So for clarity sake it is now clear that Mr. Leonard meant he found the original report to see if there were any other information in it. Kudos to Bob Leonard for finding that article and sharing with us the fact of learning nothing new in the original June 29, 1852 publication. That aside, unfortunately, Nathan Joseph's illustration and text of his 1910 circular (see Fig. 5 above, and Fig. 40 below) amply demonstrates the older Joseph Brothers designed a different coin with an Indian head rather than the imitation of the head of Liberty found on the gold dollar, i.e., if they ever designed one at all. Nathan Joseph describes these earliest pieces produced by his brothers in 1852 thus, "On the face is an Indian head surrounded by stars, with the date under the head." Alas!, the date is in exergue beneath the Indian head on the obverse; they were minted in both round and octagonal form; and the legend California Gold is enclosed within the wreath sans Half Dollar. This last difference clearly distinguished the Joseph Brothers designs a la Nathan Joseph from that in the newspaper article. In Nathan Joseph's own words "On the reverse side are only the words "California gold," which are enclosed in a wreath." Nathan Joseph offers us his evidence of very different designs from that found described in the Time-Picayune article. San Francisco art and coin dealer Ernest Haquette (1847-1911) called these fake California fractional gold pieces charms beginning in the 1890's. 

Fig. 7. "No demand for charms." Detail of Coin Book published by San Francisco coin dealer Ernest Haquette c. 1900-1906. Note he sells only California fractional gold pieces prior to 1870. Those circulating 1870 and later were not considered collectibles by many informed dealers. Most considered them counterfeits and classified them as charms, not collectible coins.

            In November 1948, George G. Reusch of Medford, Wisconsin wrote a query put to Mr. Cottin, Jr., of The Numismatic Scrapbook, published in the December 1948, issue on page 1168, which reads :

"How can I tell the real California gold pieces from the so-called souvenir or tokens?"

Here was the answer :

            "The pieces generally considered to be genuine have the value expressed as "Dollar," or "D," while pieces definitely known to be souvenirs or "charms" have simply "1/4," "1/2" or "1." It is not entirely without justification that some collectors consider many of the so-called genuine small California pieces to be souvenirs too. The only book on the subject is by Ed. M. Lee's "California Gold Quarters, Halves and Dollars." It is a descriptive list and makes no attempt to explore the background of the pieces other than to state, "So far as can be ascertained, the names of the persons or firms responsible for issuing the smaller coins are unknown. But from designs and quality it is thought that many of them were struck by the same parties issuing the larger denominations, while others were coined by responsible jewelers and merchants."

In 1871, Federal authorities apprehended a party in Leavenworth, Kansas who was striking gold half dollars described as follows : obverse, female head with thirteen stars and date 1871; reverse, wreath enclosed the words "Half Dollar' Cal." (Lee numbers 54 to 57 have a similar description.) The Director of the Mint's report for 1871 states that a large quantity of these pieces were struck.

            About 1880 the government prohibited the placing of a denomination on the pieces, hence the 1/4, 1/2 and 1 being used on known "charms."

From 1900 to 1920 large quantities of these "charms" were sold, mainly to tourists, visiting the Far West.-- and they were manufactured, in other places, in Seattle and Chicago.

            If they were not all destroyed in the Great Earthquake, old San Francisco newspaper files should shed some light on the subject as to whether the small gold pieces actually circulated as money and if so when the circulation ceased. The subject offers a challenge to the numismatist of inquiring turn of mind."

            Of course, the reader should keep in mind that Nathan Joseph was not manufacturing these gold trinkets, charms, jouets, or novelty items as a curator in order to conserve historical truth and accuracy for posterity, but rather, he was a merchandizer and retailer looking to stock his shop with salable goods that would sell to walk in customers as well as selling them by the gross to jewelers and dealers throughout the country at a profit. He does seem to possibly have been a flimflammer building up marketing hype to sell his wares. He certainly intended no harm in this hype since it is inherently apparent in the circular that he merely was attempting to drum up business. He certainly, never in his wildest dreams ever could have imagined that ninety years after publishing his circular numismatists and collectors would have taken him at his word as a salesman believing the hype to be fact. The reader should also keep in mind that Nathan Joseph has a track record of selling such toys and theatrical props as novelty items, not authentic antiques or historical objets d'art. Also, as we shall soon see in Fig. 13 below Henry Russell Drowne warned everyone about deceptive dealers just like Nathan Joseph and his infamous circular in The American Journal of Numismatics in April 1910, saying that the coins illustrated are not truthful representations of the originals. Moreover, Drowne goes on to say that Nathan Joseph is not alone, but that others too in the trade in San Francisco were doing the same thing. Unfortunately other San Francisco dealer circulars of this date or earlier have not yet come to this writer's attention. Perhaps, they too claim their ancestors were the first to coin fractional gold as well.  Beneath the warning by Drowne is a post script written by William T. R. Marvin that adds "no reputable dealer will have anything to do with them" calling Nathan Joseph's and his cronies' coins "abominations". * Note : Curiously, Robert D. Leonard, in his revised 2d edition of the Breen/Gillio, California Pioneer Fractional Gold, ascribes the Indian head designs not to Period I as Nathan Joseph claims, but rather, to Period II and the earliest ones in the 1870's.  Nevertheless, neither any identification of the diesinker(s) nor coiner(s) was ever made in this June 29, 1852 newspaper report, nor in David Proskey's 1884 article which we shall see shortly (see section below : Coining Is Not Their Business?).  Neither will we find the Joseph Brothers cited by Edgar Holmes Adams, Private Gold Coinage of California, 1849-55, Its History and Its Issues (1913).  The legend : Half-Dollar stamped on the reverse with California Gold and the date 1852 is the description given in the newspaper. Obviously, the shape of the new gold half dollar is the same as the U. S. Mint dollar, i.e., circular or round, not octagonal. It is understood that the newspaper description used sentence case typography for the legends and that we should expect to find them neatly stamped with every letter in capitals. We should also expect the diameter to be less than 13mm since the description has it "somewhat smaller in diameter than the dollar". This ambiguous sort of measurement could be satisfied with a piece 11mm or less. However, no known specimen has been found, although * Note - Robert D. Leonard, Jr, supports the view that this is the Joseph Brothers piece catalogued as No. 401, bearing the legend HALF DOL. Note no dot or hyphen separates the words HALF DOL. The design of the Liberty head of No. 401 is quite different than the U. S. dollar and would be easily noticeable by any non specialist contra the newspaper article description. Robert D. Leonard, Jr, suggests if No. 401 is the not the earliest piece then perhaps it was either Nos. 426 or 427. The obverse design of No. 426 is better and an improvement but still falls short of the crisp, clean and beautiful bas relief of the U. S. Mint Liberty head found on the dollar. The reverses also fall short with the unpunctuated HALF DOL. and abbreviated DOLLAR. The Breen/Gillio 2d edition has no example matching this newspaper description in its very lavish catalogue. Apparently the coin is a rara avis. The only Period I piece with the correct legend as described in the newspaper minus the date is No. 435 with the obverse design of the Arms of California bearing the date in exergue 1853. The earliest documented specimen of No. 435 was catalogued by Adolph Weyl for Jules Fonrobert in 1877, Lot 1382. It might be argued by some that the newspaper writer meant HALF DOL. but wrote Half-Dollar simply because it was their writing style and assumed people would understand; besides they were not professionally trained numismatists, merely journalists. That argument falls apart since below the reader will find two additional newspaper clippings each independently describes the legend :  HALF . DOLLAR / CALIFORNIA GOLD.

Fig. 8. Baltimore Sun, Saturday, November 13, 1852, page 4. Four and a half months after the gold half dollar is seen in New Orleans, Louisiana, it surfaces in Baltimore, Maryland. The Plain Dealer, Thursday, November 4, 1852, page 3, reported one seen in Cleveland, Ohio, and commented that it "is smaller than a three cent piece."
Fig. 9. Rock River Democrat, Tuesday, December 28, 1852, page 2. Six months after the gold half dollar is seen in New Orleans, Louisiana, it surfaces in Rockford, Illinois. Note the report also indicates the legend Half-Dollar, not Half Dol.

Fig. 10. Kentucky Tribune, Friday, January 14, 1853, page 3. Six and a half months after the gold half dollar is seen in New Orleans, Louisiana, it surfaces in Chicago, Illinois. Note the report also indicates the legend Half-Dollar, not Half Dol.


            Attributing the earliest Period I California Fractional Gold : Its Problems and Misattribution

            The 1850 San Francisco City Directory lists twenty-nine jewelers, and additionally two goldsmiths that offers more candidates to the list to possibly have made the 1852 gold half dollar. Also, the 1852 San Francisco City Directory lists forty-six jewelers that expands and compounds the possibilities far beyond that of either the Joseph Brothers.  Robert D. Leonard, Jr., makes the attribution in favor of the Joseph Brothers of the 1852 gold half dollar cited in the Times-Picayune, Tuesday, June 29, 1852, apparently based on Nathan Joseph's circular which he quotes from on page 27 as his supporting evidence It is always possible that the Joseph Brothers did make souvenir gold coins but the strongest evidence against this is the very source making the claim, namely, Nathan Joseph's circular.

            An Experimental Trial Pattern Piece That Got Away

            It is obvious that the United States Mint contemplated issuing gold half dollar coinage even before opening the newly built branch Mint at San Francisco in 1854 since we do have the pattern pieces issued February 10, 1852; and that local die sinkers and designers including manufacturing jewelers also took up the ambitious design as well, perhaps hoping to win a government contract. The piece described in the Time-Picayune on June 29, 1852 certainly dates to about this same period between February 10th to May 10th, 1852 evidencing alternate patterns were being thought out and considered for a solid coin imitating the gold dollar versus a holed or washer-shaped one illustrated in J. Hewitt Judd, United States Pattern Coins, J-135, diameter 15.5mm using the half dime die. It is even possible that the piece cited in the Time-Picayune was such a pattern, experimental or trial piece with a few minted that entered into circulation after the plan to issue them officially was rejected sometime in May. One of them could possibly have been sent either by an official of the Assayer's Office at San Francisco, maybe Augustus Humbert himself, to another official of the Mint in New Orleans, or else an ambitious aspiring contractor like Curtis, Perry & Ward, which got reported in the  Times-Picayune, Tuesday, June 29, 1852 However, the U. S. Mint decided against issuing gold half dollar pieces altogether and so it remains possible that the entire issue that circulated was manufactured by privateers. Whoever was the earliest Period I California fractional gold maker remains unsolved, but Moffat & Company and their successors, or Wass, Molitor, seem more likely, logical and probable as capable establishments to vie for a government contract to design and coin the fractional gold issue. The importance of Moffat & Company is paramount. When the company was taken over that too was paramount.  Alta California, February 16, 1852, and even three months after the fact, by Friday, May 14, 1852, reported the announcement in the east coast Charleston Courier, page 2, relates how upon the retirement of the founding partner John Little Moffat, that Joseph R. Curtis, Philo H. Perry and Samuel H. Ward succeeded Moffat & Company as the principals who were authorized by the U. S. Mint to coin $20 and $10 gold pieces under the direction of Mr. Augustus Humbert, Assayer. This firm if any would have been the prime candidate to have designed a fifty cent gold piece knowing the Mint's interest in considering issuing one, not some unknown firm of two foreigners unknown to the Assayer and having no connections or letters of introduction or credence. Moreover, the fact that the reporter for the Time-Picayune clearly expresses the exactitude of the specimen in hand to the official U. S. Mint gold dollar strengthens their identification.

            Yet again, perhaps there is a relationship between the designer and coiner of the Bushnell's size 10 California brass token No. 2 (gambling token?) with reverse legend above and below the waving flag flanked by three stars:  "CALIFORNIA/COUNTER" and obverse dated in exergue 1852 below the Liberty facing left surrounded by thirteen stars, and the early Period I, 1852 California fractional gold half dollar.

            Joseph Brother's Store Card

            Whereas, the copper store card issued by the Joseph Brothers most probably dates sometime not before the Summer or Fall of 1854  (Rulau Calif 6), since they operated a shop at 149 Montgomery Street not before that time. They are listed at that address in the LeCount & Strong 's San Francisco City Directory of 1854Consequently, the earliest possible date for the copper store card with the 149 Montgomery Street address cannot be before 1854. Frank Baker, an upholsterer ran his shop at that address in 1853. In July 1854, George H. Johnson ran  his "Pioneer Daguerrean Gallery" at that address.  So it seems that even in 1854 they were not at the beginning of the year at that address but sometime later.

            Perhaps, the earliest known coin auction offering a Joseph Brothers store card was that of Thomas Warner, Cohocton, New York, sold by the Chapman Brothers on June 9-14, 1884, lot 2515 mixed in with fifteen other store cards.

Fig. 11.  Joseph Brothers at 149 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, engraving on their stationery 1854-1860.
Fig. 12.  Joseph Brothers at 149 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, advertisement in the San Francisco Bulletin, Saturday, December 22, 1855, page 2.

            Addresses of the Joseph Brothers at San Francisco

            1852- A. W. Morgan & Co.'s San Francisco City Directory, September 1852, page 35 and 125 lists the Joseph Bros. & Co., Jewelers, at 175 Clay Street.

            1852-1853 James M. Parker, The San Francisco Directory For the Year 1852-1853, page 68 lists the Joseph Bros. & Co., Jewelers, at 128 Montgomery Street; the brothers listed individually are listed as Opticians.

            1854- LeCount & Strong 's San Francisco City Directory of 1854, page 78 lists the Joseph Bros. & Co., chronometer makers and jewelers, 149 Montgomery Street.

            1855- San Francisco Bulletin, Saturday, December 22, 1855, page 2 advertisement lists them at  149 Montgomery Street.

            1856-1857  Samuel Colville's San Francisco Directory Forthe Year Commencing 1856 (1857), page 115 lists the Joseph Bros. & Co., watch-makers and jewelers, importers of materials, 149 Montgomery Street.

            1858- Henry G. Langley, The San Francisco Directory (1858), page 168 lists the JOSEPH BROTHERS (B. & J. B.) importers of watches, jewelry, diamonds, etc., etc., 149 Montgomery Street.
            1859- Henry G. Langley, The San Francisco Directory (1859), page 162 lists the JOSEPH BROTHERS (L. B. & J. B. J.) watches, diamonds, jewelry, etc., etc., 149 Montgomery Street.
            1860- Henry G. Langley, The San Francisco Directory (1860), page 180 lists the Joseph Brothers (Lionel B. and J. B. J.) impor's watches, diamonds, jewelry, etc., 149 Montgomery Street.
            1861- Henry G. Langley, The San Francisco Directory (1861), page 194 lists the JOSEPH BROTHERS (L. B. & J. B. J.) importers and manufacturers watches, diamonds, jewelry, silverware, etc., 607 Montgomery Street.  * NOTE : Robert D. Leonard, Jr., "Joseph Brothers" in Breen/Gillio, California Pioneer Fractional Gold (Bowers and Merena Galleries, 2nd Revised edition, 2003) : 26, says it was renumbered in 1860 to 607 Montgomery from 149 Montgomery. However, according to the California Historical Society's publication, The Kemble Occasional, Issue 30, Summer (1983) page 1 "The renumbering of San Francisco streets in 1861 accounts for some of the slight changes of address." Based on that statement, besides the fact the ordinance of renumbering was not 1860 but 1861, it is hard to accept the new address to be reckoned among "slight changes of address" from a 100 block to a 600 block. Consequently, it would seem that they moved a few or several blocks down the street.
            1862- Henry G. Langley, The San Francisco Directory (1862), page 213 lists the JOSEPH BROTHERS (Lionel B. and Joseph B. Joseph) importers and manufacturers watches, diamonds, jewelry, silverware, etc., 607 Montgomery Street.
            1863- Henry G. Langley, The San Francisco Directory (1863), page 204 lists the JOSEPH BROTHERS (Lionel B. and Joseph B. Joseph) importers and manufacturers watches, diamonds, jewelry, silverware, etc., 607 Montgomery Street. dwl 1918 Stockton.
            1864- Henry G. Langley, The San Francisco Directory (1864), page 204 lists the JOSEPH BROTHERS (Lionel B. and Joseph B. Joseph) importers and manufacturers watches, diamonds, jewelry, silverware, etc., 607 Montgomery Street.            
            1865- Henry G. Langley, The San Francisco Directory (1865), page 248 lists the JOSEPH BROTHERS (Lionel B. and Joseph B. Joseph) importers and manufacturers watches, diamonds, jewelry, silverware, etc., 607 Montgomery Street. dwl 4 Brenham Place.
            1867- Henry G. Langley, The San Francisco Directory (1867), page 273 lists the JOSEPH BROTHERS (Lionel B. and Joseph B. Joseph) importers and manufacturers watches, diamonds, jewelry, silverware, etc., 607 Montgomery Street. dwl 2 Brenham Place.
            1868- Henry G. Langley, The San Francisco Directory (1868), page 308 lists the JOSEPH BROTHERS (Lionel B. and Joseph B. Joseph) importers and manufacturers watches, diamonds, jewelry, silverware, etc., 619 Washington Street. dwl 2 Brenham Place. * NOTE : Robert D. Leonard, Jr., "Joseph Brothers" in Breen/Gillio, California Pioneer Fractional Gold (Bowers and Merena Galleries, 2nd Revised edition, 2003) : 26, says it was 619 Montgomery, citing a reference to Robert J. Chandler, "A Few Words on the Joseph Brothers : Coiners in Period I and III," Brasher Bulletin, Vol. 13, No. 1 (mismarked Vol. 12, No. 2), pp. 35-9. This seems to have been a mistake.
            1869- Henry G. Langley, The San Francisco Directory (1868), page 341 lists the JOSEPH BROTHERS (Lionel B. and Joseph B. Joseph) importers and manufacturers watches, diamonds, jewelry, silverware, etc., 619 Washington Street. 
            1871 Henry G. Langley, The San Francisco Directory (1871) Not listed any longer. We find on page 359, Nathan Joseph & Co., Agents American and European manufacturers, 619 Washington, dwl Brooklyn Hotel.  

                Coining Is Not Their Business?

            The Rulau chronology given for the copper store card (Rulau Calif 6), and the same silvered (Rulau Calif 6A) is correctly dated 1854-1860, since the San Francisco City Directories list them at the 149 Montgomery address.  However the (Rulau Calif 6B) should be dated 1861-1867 since the San Francisco City Directories list them at the 607 Montgomery Street address, not 1860-1867 as Rulau has it. Note : Robert D. Leonard, Jr., in his Letter to E-Sylum, claims he has the corrected dating but does not have in his text stating the 1861-1867 dating, but rather the explanation of the address change in the statement the City in 1860 renumbered the streets. This is not a correction of the Rulau dating at all. It simply goes to explain why the second store card in 1860, giving the impression one was made then, would have the new address. Nevertheless, as we shall see the Joseph Brothers, i.e., Lionel and Josephus ran ads beginning in December 1866 that they were selling out and closing their shop. It seems possible that they may have left San Francisco at that time putting their brother Nathan in charge of the liquidation and final settlement of their accounts. Consequently the adjusted dating of the second store card should be 1861-1866.            

            The copper store card was first cited by Charles Ira Bushnell (1826-1883), in 1858, An Arrangement of Tradesmen's Cards and Political Tokens, and later on cited and illustrated in American numismatic literature by Dr. Benjamin P. Wright (1857-1922) and his extensive list of American Store Cards (No. 522) published in an installment to his series in the September 1898 issue of The Numismatist on pages 215 and 216. Edgar Holmes Adams, United States Store Cards, identifies the store card as Calif 6, the identification which Russell Rulau kept in 1997. Melvin and George Fuld, the father son team of American numismatic fame as leading experts on tokens, store cards, and colonial issues including those minted in Birmingham, England, in the June 1955 issue of The Numismatist cite the Wright and Adams sources and also give the dating "struck about 1850" based on their expert and amazing connoisseurship. Ever since the early 1850 date has been repeated in American numismatic literature.

            None of the fractional gold pieces produced by the Joseph Brothers, if any were ever made at all, or any other maker are listed in Edgar Holmes Adams (1868-1940), Adams' Official Premium List of United States Private and Territorial Gold Coins. (1909). None of the fractional gold pieces produced by the Joseph Brothers are cited by Edgar Holmes Adams, Private Gold Coinage of California, 1849-55, Its History and Its Issues (1913). This latter book is a more interesting observation considering Nathan Joseph's circular should have been known and accessible to him a few years prior to his publication. We recall the earliest public notice of  Nathan Joseph's circular was in The American Journal of Numismatics, Vol. XLIV, No. 2, April (1910) : 64, and later on in The Numismatist, February (1913) : 108. (see comment to Fig. 40 below) 

Fig. 13. The American Numismatic Society was the first organization to sound the battle cry to end the flooding of the coin market of bogus California fractional gold "four score and seven years ago". Henry Russell Drowne warns numismatists about dealers just like Nathan Joseph and his infamous circular in The American Journal of Numismatics, Vol. XLIV, No. 2, April (1910) : 64.  

            Besides Nathan Joseph's circular we need to repeat the question where is the first historically documented record that links the Joseph Brothers with California fractional gold? The earliest numismatic article on private gold was certainly written by David Proskey, "Gold Issued by Private Persons in the United States, Coin Collector's Journal, March (1884) : 36-41, which gives no names or identification whatsoever of any of these private persons, but rather, simply provides a comprehensive list of know specimens, i.e., 46 gold quarter dollars, and 36 gold half dollars, and 22 gold dollars. This is the very first known article and list drawn up on this subject. The question stands : who was the first to record in any literature or public record that the Joseph Brothers produced California fractional gold coins, and when did this occur (excepting Nathan Joseph)? Who wrote about the Joseph Brothers as fractional gold makers prior to 1983? Where is the historical evidence that supports and defends that attribution?

            The Joseph Brothers are not listed in Louis Forrer (1869-1953), Biographical Dictionary of Medallists. This multivolume work first appeared in a series in Spink & Son's Monthly Numismatic Circular 1892-1930. Being a bibliomaniac I own both. Apparently Forrer never got wind of the Nathan Joseph circular therefore having no clue they were ever considered diesinkers or coin engravers or designers. That takes us up to 1930 with no Joseph Brothers & Co. fractional gold in numismatic literature. The Fulds considered the store cards made by the San Francisco, California die-sinking, engraving firm of Moise. Regardless whether that attribution is correct or not it does relate how astute expert numismatists considered the Joseph Brothers' store cards conceivably designed and made by others than themselves. Note: Robert D. Leonard, Jr., was quick to point out the store card was thought to be made in Birmingham, England. This notion was first made by Jerry F. Schimmel in the PCNS Bulletin and was reprinted by CalCoin News, Vol. 43, No. 2, Spring (1989) : 46. If true it seems to be damning evidence against the Joseph Brothers as coiners.  Schimmel, appears to have not known about the Joseph Brothers & Co. fractional gold coins either since no reference is ever made, a glaring oversight if he had. It matters not if made in Birmingham, England, or anywhere else since my point was they did not seem to be coiners at all capable of making one for themselves let alone for others. In other words, it seems hard to reconcile a diesinker/coiner unable to make his own store card as someone diesinking and coining other items. Moreover, it is a very odd fact that diesinkers, medallists, and engravers do not advertise that skill and capacity on their store card. This point is very critical from a historian's viewpoint since it supports the notion they had nothing to do with that industry at all. It would have been a very important piece of information to circulate in San Francisco where gold diggers pan for gold and miners who dig for gold brought their gold into the city daily looking for competent assayers and diesinkers to purify, weigh, and stamp their gold either into ingots or coins. Yet the Joseph Brothers are completely silent on this aspect of business and instead inform the public they make watches, cutlery, and eyeglasses, and import goods from Liverpool. Never is there any mention of their ability to do any coining at all, a business much in demand in a gold mining town. One wonders if Nathan Joseph in 1910 is telling us the truth that his brothers made dies for fractional gold beginning in 1852. The more one probes the more it seems Nathan Joseph unwittingly created a hoax. As we have seen if it were true it more likely than not could not have occurred prior to October 1852, but more probably, in the few years prior to their leaving California to return to England in the 1860's. This latter suggestion is merely based on the illustrations found on Nathan Joseph's circular that depicts a later type (considered by Robert D. Leonard, Jr., and all the experts to date not before 1870), not that of the 1850's. It would also account for the fact that they could not make a store card in 1854, and so learned how to die-sink a decade later or thereabout.

Fig. 14. Joseph Brothers 1852  advertisement for their shop at 175-1/2 Clay Street, San Francisco, California giving the address of their father Barnet Lyon Joseph, a Silversmith, at 42 Bold Street, Liverpool, and his son Josephus Barnet Joseph at 31 South Castle Street, Liverpool. The A. W. Morgan & Co.'s San Francisco City Directory, September 1852, page 35 and 125 lists the Joseph Bros. & Co., Jewelers, at 175 Clay Street.

In September 1857 the Joseph Brothers & Co. atelier exhibited a case of jewelry at the First Industrial Exhibition of the Mechanics' Institute of the City of San Francisco.  What is important is that there was no exhibition of their coining capacity, or their now famous gold half dollars and quarters.

March 10, 1858, Josephus sailed from San Francisco to Honolulu aboard the Bark Fanny Major. The ship's passenger lists reports Josephus as being an English merchant 25 years old, the age of his younger brother Nathan.

Fig. 15. Advertisement for the closing of the shop of the Joseph Brothers. Note the exaggeration that implies they established their business at San Francisco in 1850 by use of the phrase "they have been successfully engaged for the past 16 years". 

Other copies of this ad actually use the statement "Established 1850". The established date of 1850 applies exclusively to Lionel B. Joseph who alone of the three brothers may have been in America by December of that year. Yet, it more probably refers to their business in Liverpool at that early date, not San Francisco. This advertisement ran from December 8, 1866 – May 9, 1868, for one and a half years to sell out the inventory and settle the accounts with the two elder brothers one of whom was now in England, or perhaps both.  San Francisco Chronicle, Saturday, December 8, 1866, page 2

             We know prior to the final closing Lionel B. Joseph had returned to England with his wife since his son Leonard was born at Norwood 1867. When the final closing of the Joseph Brothers shop at 607 Montgomery Street occurred in late Spring 1868 although the city directory continued to list them for the year 1869, Nathan became the sole manager and rental agent for the elder brothers real estate holdings in California operating out of his office at 619 Washington Street. He also purchased several buildings and bought, sold and leased real estate regularly lifelong. * NOTE : Robert D. Leonard, Jr., "Joseph Brothers" in Breen/Gillio, California Pioneer Fractional Gold (Bowers and Merena Galleries, 2nd Revised edition, 2003) : 26-7, claims "Nathan Joseph operated a jewelry brokerage business out of the 619 Montgomery St., address from 1868 to 1873, then opened the Curio Shop at 641 Clay St." However, all documentation including his advertisements in various newspapers refers to 619 Washington Street, not 619 Montgomery Street.

            The California fractional gold supposedly manufactured by the Joseph Brothers is assumed to have been a business that was succeeded by the firm of Pierre Frontier and Eugene Deviercy from 1853-1873. (see Breen/Gillio, 2d edition, page 19 top, page 45 top, and 68 top) Where is the documentary evidence? The fact of the advertisements of the Joseph Brothers closing shop and selling out militates against any notion of successors especially in lieu of the fact that the ads ran so long.

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      The following is merely a brief and incomplete sketch of American numismatic interest and collection of California fractional gold. To do justice to this vital and crucial subject a 3d revised edition of the Breen/Gillio, California Pioneer Fractional Gold (Bowers and Merena Galleries, 2nd Revised edition, 2003) is certainly in order. 

    Fig. 16. Times-Picayune, Thursday, April 28, 1853, page 3.  Notice of a new 1853 gold half dollar with legend "Half a dollar -- California gold".     Other reports soon followed like that in the Daily Union published the following day on April 29, 1853, with complaints about the problematic size of the coin that it would be too unwieldy in one's pocket or purse too find or grasp. Curiously, the article in the Louisiana newspaper with its fuller description unmistakably reports it as "California gold', with no reference to surreptitious use of U. S. government dies. Whereas, the local California newspaper in Sacramento does, and thus created somewhat of an intrigue about the coiner implying a private mining company in the phrase "flash in the pan" : "Whose invention it is, deponeth saith not; but it is a flash in the pan." * Note : Robert D. Leonard, however, interpreted this differently. "Excess of style and spelling aside, the writer seemed to think that it was a U. S. government issue and thus legal tender . . ." (see Breen/Gillio, 2d edition, page 18). Mr. Leonard might be right but there are other readings that offer other interpretations. A "flash in the pan" was a California colloquialism transferring its meaning from a misfire or fizzle to refer to the gold miners panning for gold who seeing a flash of flickering sunlight shine off something in the pan excited them with the hope of having discovered gold only to find it was not and were only sadly disappointed. [4] So, the flash in the pan the Daily Union writer was referring to was that the gold coin is just as disappointing as a flickering object in a miner's pan that proved not to be gold. The implication, obviously, is that the writer thought it was either not gold used to coin these fraction gold pieces or else it was highly debased. In either case the writer was really saying they were counterfeiters manufacturing bogus coins for circulation. However, that sense might be difficult to prove as current in 1853, but certainly, we do have solid evidence it meant a brief trendy fad that dies out as quickly as it began. In that sense the writer merely pointed out the gold quarter would have a very brief life as currency seeing it as a quickly passing fad.  The Daily Union published another story a little over four months later on September 3, 1853 that gold half dollars were counterfeit. Apparently this newspaper served to give notice to the public about spurious coins circulating, which could serve to strengthen the other sense of the phrase "flash in the pan" as current at the time. 

Fig. 17. New London Chronicle, Saturday, July 16, 1853, p.2. The new gold quarter dollar from San Francisco, California, was just received in New London, Connecticut. Peter C. Turner was the president of Whaling Bank, New London. Note the coin arrived in New London, Connecticut on or before July 16, 1853, which demands the coin having been minted no later than April 16, 1853, in order to allow for travel time.

        George Frederick Kolbe discovered the earliest known illustrations of Period I fractional gold comprising No. 504 (1854 Gold Dollar assumed made by Frontier, Deviercy & Co.), and No. 430 (1853 Half Dollar assumed coined by Nouzillet) pieces published in John S. Dye : Dye's Gold and Silver Coin Chart Manual, published in New York either in 1854 or 1855. (see Breen/Gillio, California Pioneer Fractional Gold (Bowers and Merena Galleries, 2nd Revised edition, 2003) : 23. So far no earlier known illustration has been found that I am aware of. 

        Moses Thomas catalogued the so-called "John W. Kline" collection  of June 12, 1855, with Lot 23 comprising four specimens of 1853 gold quarter dollars (now attributed to Frontier, Deviercy & Co.). This piece may provide a clue to the identity of the owner if they acquired the piece first hand it would seem they traveled to California between summer 1854 and spring 1855. Moreover, the piece appeared in the 1855 Philadelphia numismatic coin market at this sale as a curiosity since these pieces were neither common nor readily available in that city and so needed to be bought at this auction sale.

        An 1856 gold quarter dollar (now attributed to Frontier, Deviercy & Co.) was published as an illustration in Peterson's Complete Coin Book of 1859.

        California fractional gold became more widely known and collected as well as noted and described and sold by American numismatists beginning no later than 1859, when an illustration appeared in Montroville Wilson Dickeson's (1810-1882), The American Numismatical Manual of the Currency or Money of the Aborigines, and Colonial, State, and United States Coins : With Historical and Descriptive Notices of Each Coin or SeriesFirst Edition. (New York : J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1859) : Plate XVIII, figures 15 (Quarter Dollar) and 16 (1852 Half Dollar).

Fig. 18. Zoom-in of Montroville Wilson Dickeson's Plate XVIII, figs. 15 & 16. Figure 15, Quarter Dollar gold piece has twelve stars surrounding the head of Liberty facing left; fig. 16, the Half-Dollar is stamped Half Dol. (not Half-Dollar as described in the Times Picayune of June 29, 1852). Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

        The Cabinet of the U. S. Mint by 1860 acquired an 1854 gold quarter dollar (now attributed to Frontier, Deviercy & Co.).

        W. E. Woodward catalogued the Rev. Joseph M. Finotti sale, November 11-14, 1862, Lot 1691 an 1854 gold quarter dollar (now attributed to Frontier, Deviercy & Co.).

        In June 1865, the British Museum purchased from Mr. Eastman two specimens an of 1854/55 gold quarter dollars (now attributed to Frontier, Deviercy & Co.).

         W. E. Woodward catalogued the Mickley sale in 1867 describing lot 2170 as a Pattern Piece of the American series "Gold Ring Half Dollar, 1850". Ebenezer Locke Mason, Jr., mentions this in his article "History of U. S. Pattern Pieces, With their Fictitious Value," (Continued) published October and December 1868, as a "Model" "never issued, or sanctioned the issue, of a gold piece of a less denomination than one dollar." See also Breen/Gillio, California Pioneer Fractional Gold (Bowers and Merena Galleries, 2nd Revised edition, 2003) : 17 "Chronology Issues".

            Ebenezer Locke Mason, Jr., mentions coming into occasional possession of a California gold quarter in January 1868. Mason began selling California fractional gold in a steady stream of ads beginning in the late fall of 1870. Apparently there was a fad to collect them as curios for some collectors. But by 1870 the coiners of these pieces looked to make higher profits and debased the alloy and their new pieces really had no historical value at all and were simply souvenirs for the tourist industry. Every youngster reading Mason's monthly magazine could become excited about coins, the gold rush, and so forth, and for less than a dollar could own a piece or two of these tourist industry souvenir trinkets to placate their imagination's longing.

Fig. 19. Ebenezer Locke Mason, Jr., advertisement for California fractional gold Quarters and Halves published in Mason's Coin Collector's Herald, Vol. 1, No. 3, December (1879) : 28. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

Fig. 20. Ebenezer Locke Mason, Jr., advertisement for California fractional gold Halves and Quarters published in Mason's Numismatic Visitor, Volume 1, No. 4, January (1881) : 22. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

Fig. 21. Ebenezer Locke Mason, Jr., advertisement for California fractional gold in Mason's Coin Collector's Herald, Vol. II, No. 4, March (1881) : 32. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. 
Fig. 22. Ebenezer Locke Mason, Jr., advertisement for California fractional gold in Mason's Coin Collector's Herald, Vol. III, No. 1, June (1881) : 40. NOTE : the price decreases on certain specimens in just two months and remained the same in the September issue on page 48. In his Coin Prices Current circulars throughout 1884, 1885, 1890, and 1891, he distinguishes between the circular and octagonal gold half dollar both priced at $0.55; and quarter respectively each at $0.35. Also, note he seems to have a glut of these pieces to sell spanning a decade. This is when the big boom of fake California fractional gold seemed to emerge and continue down to our day. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. 

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            Nathan Joseph (1832-1924), was born the seventh of fourteen children on October 22, 1832, son of Barnet Lyon Joseph (1801-1880) and Betsy Jacobs Joseph (1801-1889), at Liverpool, Lancashire, England. According to the 1900 U. S. Census he came to America in 1858 and became a naturalized citizen. [5] That is when the two elder brothers had ventured into Canada leaving him in charge of their properties at San Francisco. 

            Nathan Joseph is best known in American numismatics as having struck California fractional gold by patent. Numismatists generally classify Nathan Joseph's gold pieces as belonging to two periods : I (1884-1903), and II (1906-1924). Note, these are not the standard Period I - Period III dates for early California fractional gold since Nathan's pieces are later copies of his brothers earlier work and his Eureka pieces believed to date to these two aforementioned periods. The consensus of early California fractional gold is Period I (1852-1857), Period II (1858-1882), and Period III (1900-?). The Period III dates posthumous to Nathan Joseph include the so-called Joseph dies supposedly used by Howard E. Macintosh of Tatham Stamp & Coin from 1930 to 1970; Kelly's Coins in 1961; and Sidney Smith from 1958 to 1978. Other manufacturers of replicas of the Joseph dies may also be supposed to exist.

            Of the three brothers he is the most colorful. He survived being hit by cars twice; an earthquake and two fires at his Old Curiosity Shop, and another fire on his property on Stockton Street; and at least four burglaries. He sold everything from real estate, to anthropological artifacts, natural history specimens, razor blades, coins, gold, costumes, musical instruments, stereopticon and magic lantern slides, curios, medals, badges and decorations. He was typically a very generous man making donations of antiquities to various museums and for helping young Jews who needed assistance.

Fig. 23. Advertisement for St. Patrick badges, an early numismatic importing venture exclusively by Nathan Joseph in 1874 where he operated as Nathan Joseph & Co., 641 Clay Street, San Francisco.  San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, February 22, 1874, page 7. 

            In 1876, he applied for a patent for the Queen's Own Company in order to act as the exclusive importing and sales agent for this English company in America. 

Fig. 24. Advertisement For Nathan Joseph as a merchant of general wholesale goods. He purchased large stock of goods at Sheriff's sales and sold at a premium even at discounted prices. This eventually leads to his accumulation of a large stock of a wide variety of unusual items that evolved into his curio shop in the 1880's. San Francisco Chronicle, Tuesday, December 13, 1881, page 2.

            From the 1880's on Nathan Joseph operated as an antiquities and curiosities dealer claiming to have been established since 1860 at 641 Clay Street, San Francisco, California. It is also from this date on we find the coin market becoming flooded with bogus California fractional gold coins being pawned off under the euphemism of "souvenir pieces" to the unsuspecting. Nevertheless, in 1901 he sold his shop to Nathan Raphael. He continued doing business at 604 Merchant Street, San Francisco. * NOTE : Robert D. Leonard, Jr., "Joseph Brothers" in Breen/Gillio, California Pioneer Fractional Gold (Bowers and Merena Galleries, 2nd Revised edition, 2003) : 26-7, claims "Nathan Joseph operated a jewelry brokerage business out of the 619 Montgomery St., address from 1868 to 1873, then opened the Curio Shop at 641 Clay St. . . . he remained at this address until 1900, when he relocated at 604 Merchant St." However, the 1900 San Francisco City Directory, page 938,  lists his Curio Shop at 641 Clay St, and his residence at 1014 Masonic Avenue. The 1901 San Francisco City Directory, page 964,  lists his Curio Shop at 604 Merchant St., and his residence at 1014 Masonic Avenue. 

Fig. 25. Advertisement For Nathan Joseph as a costume importing merchant for theatre and the stage. San Francisco Chronicle, Thursday, February 22, 1883, page 4

Fig. 26. A second advertisement For Nathan Joseph this time as an importer of English Sheffield razors manufactured by the Queen's Own Company for which he acts as the exclusive agent in America. San Francisco Chronicle, Thursday, February 22, 1883, page 4.

Fig. 27. Advertisement For Nathan Joseph as the proprietor of an Old Curiosity Shop selling old coins first appears in Spring 1885. San Francisco Chronicle, Friday, April 3, 1885, page 1.

Fig. 28. Advertisement For Nathan Joseph & Co.'s Old Curiosity Shop begins to take on the character of a 19th century German Anthropologisch-Ethnographisches Museum, i.e., an Anthropological Museum. San Francisco Chronicle, Tuesday, December 14, 1886, page 4.

            The Nova Scotia Presbyterian missionaries Rev. Joseph and Alice Annand visited San Francisco in early February 1887 and Nathan Joseph made inquiries to them asking for "skulls, axes, any of their handiwork, not too large, but not weapons unless small, minerals, &c., &c., &c, &c." [6]

Fig. 29. A group of medals, though published in the Lost and Found section, were actually robbed from Nathan Joseph. San Francisco Chronicle, Wednesday, November 16, 1887, page 2.

Fig. 30. The first known fire to Nathan Joseph's Old Curiosity Shop. San Francisco Chronicle, Friday, August 24, 1888, page 6.

Fig. 31. The second robbery but first significant break-in and robbery of Nathan Joseph's Old Curiosity Shop San Francisco Call, Wednesday, August 23, 1893, page 6.

Fig. 32. Headlines of the newspaper report on the second break-in and pillaging of the Nathan Joseph Old Curiosity Shop. San Francisco Call, Saturday, March 31, 1894, page 3.

            In 1895 he had donated forty-six archaeological instruments to the Museum of the University of California. 

            In the San Francisco Chronicle, Thursday, 12 March, 1896, page 8, ran the story of how he was swindled in March 1896 by Fred M. Peter and wife who ran a costume shop at 729 Market Street, and who owed him $3,500 on loan and $1,500 interest. 

            On March 30, 1896, he donated to the Park Museum seven pictures showing different views of the interior of Abe Warner’s Cobweb Palace Saloon erected at North Beach in 1856. San Francisco Chronicle, Monday, 30 March 1896, page 5; illustrated in San Francisco Call, Saturday, December 19, 1896, page 5. Other items donated to the Park Museum included snuff boxes reported in the San Francisco ChronicleSunday, August 29, 1897,  page 8.

Fig. 33. Amusing advertisement of Joseph's Old Curiosity Shop as a Museum one can enter for free. An unusual way to attract browsers.  San Francisco Chronicle, Saturday, July 10, 1897, page 14.

            Beginning in 1899 Nathan Joseph began dealing coins with the Chapman Brothers. There are more than eight pieces of correspondence from Nathan Joseph to the Chapman Brothers in the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive, which is still being digitally catalogued. Final results will be posted after 1910-1924 correspondence is completed.

Fig. 34. A letter of inquiry for the purchase of rare coins by Nathan Joseph to the Chapman Brothers, postmarked March 21, 1899, Barry Machine Cancel. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive. 

Fig. 35. A second letter of correspondence of Nathan Joseph to the Chapman Brothers, postmarked April 10, 1899, Barry Machine Cancel. This one contained $108.25 in cash with an order for rare coins. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive. 

Fig. 36. Newspaper report on an agent working for Nathan Joseph named M. Goldstein stole $2,000 in diamonds.  San Francisco Call, Saturday, January 20, 1900, page 12. 

            A.  B. Remick, Assayer, was driven to suicide by chloroform from fear of arrest for passing bad checks of which he had given one to Nathan Joseph purchasing curiosities of agate and gold specimens for $137.50. Oakland Tribune, Tuesday, 21 August, 1900, page 5; and Wednesday, 22 August, page 3. However, it was reported in the Oakland Tribune, Friday, November 30, 1900, page 5, the merchandise was returned to him by Judge Stestson after it was found in Remick's hotel room at Berkeley. The items were given to Coroner Mehrmann, who handed them over to him. San Francisco Chronicle, 2 December, 1900, page 16.

            In December 1900, Nathan Joseph sold his Old Curiosity Shop to Nat Raphael. Raphael's first advertisement was published in the Western Journal, Vol. 5, No. 7, December (1900) : 69. However, he did not cease doing business operating an Old Curiosity Shop but opened a new one at 604 Merchant Street, San Francisco.

Fig. 37. Announcement of the new owner of Nathan Joseph's Old Curiosity Shop, Nat. Raphael. Note the date of Nathan Joseph's independent establishment in 1860.  San Francisco Blue Book (1902) : 535.

* NOTE : Robert D. Leonard, Jr., "Joseph Brothers" in Breen/Gillio, California Pioneer Fractional Gold (Bowers and Merena Galleries, 2nd Revised edition, 2003) : 26-7, claims Nathan Joseph was not yet in San Francisco until 1868. 

        In 1904 he sold a wooden carved Indian totem to the Swedish Världskultur-Museerna.

Fig. 38. Advertisement for Nathan Joseph & Co.'s Old Curiosity Shop, 604 Merchant Street. Los Angeles Times, Tuesday, January 3, 1905, page 2

            In March 1905, he loaned two sixteen foot long aboriginal canoes to the Park Museum.  San Francisco Chronicle, 20 March, 1905, page 7.

            Farran Zerbe reported in the May 1905 issue of The Numismatist (page 150) that Nathan Joseph, the "Old Curiosity Shop" proprietor lost interest in coins and only had four slug octagonal gold coins in stock at high prices.
            In the earthquake and ensuing fires at San Francisco in April 1906 Nathan Joseph was among the dealers who sustained losses. The San Francisco fire destroyed the dies of the “Arms of California” fractional gold. This was Nathan Joseph's second fire at his store.

Fig. 39. An automobile struck down Nathan Joseph in April 1907. He was rushed to the Harbor Hospital and his shoulder blade was found to be broken. Dr. Tillman set the bone and Joseph was in fair condition. Delighted with the service from the hospital staff Joseph insisted on tipping them and giving thirty cents to be shared by them. San Francisco Call, Sunday, April 28, 1907, page 21.

Fig. 40. A  letter of correspondence of Nathan Joseph to the Chapman Brothers inquiring to sell rare coins at wholesale prices, postmarked August 21, 1910, giving his new address at 2206 Steiner Street.  This is the period of time of his infamous circular below in Fig. 41. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive. 

* NOTE : Robert D. Leonard, Jr., "Joseph Brothers" in Breen/Gillio, California Pioneer Fractional Gold (Bowers and Merena Galleries, 2nd Revised edition, 2003) : 27, says "he continued his souvenir token business from his residence at 30 Baker St. from 1906 through 1923-24 . . . About 1924, Nathan Joseph moved one last time, to 2206 Steiner St. address used on his advertising flyer . . ." The 2206 Steiner St. address dates to 1910, not 1924, and the flyer certainly dates circa 1910, not 1924 which would have been just eight months or less prior to his demise.

            Sometime late 1912 he caused to be made new dies and printed a circular to promote and sell his newly patented California fractional gold pieces. 

Fig. 41. Circa January - March, 1910, Advertisement Circular for Souvenir Fractional Gold. Nathan Joseph claims his brothers Josephus and Lionel first made them in 1852. Keep in mind Nathan Joseph was not present at San Francisco in 1852 and that even if it were true he was writing fifty-eight years after the fact based on his memory at age seventy-eight. * NOTE : Robert D. Leonard, Jr., believes Nathan Joseph mainly based on Nathan's photograph. "A photograph of Nathan Joseph is appended so that readers can judge his veracity for themselves." (see Breen/Gillio, page 26). An original specimen of the Circular was sold by Kolbe & Fanning April 16, 2016, Lot 299 realized $85. Dating is based on the earliest notice about this circular published in The American Journal of Numismatics, April (1910) : 64, and later on in The Numismatist, February (1913) : 108.  Rather than looking at Nathan Joseph's photograph "so that readers can judge his veracity for themselves," it serves us much better to look very carefully at the photograph of his 1910 circular that shows us the illustrations of the fractional gold pieces he claims are exact replicas of those made by his brothers in 1852. 


Fig. 42. The scourge of American numismatics that most probably began no later than 1880 with bogus California fractional gold pieces being hawked and peddled across America became more and more problematic over time. The article above pellucidly and unequivocally states "many of them might be properly be place in the category of counterfeits." Consequently, a plethora of bogus California fractional gold coins was already widely known by 1916. Above is an extract of an article published by the editor of a well-known bankers and financial magazine showing the closing paragraph. Frank E. Carter, "Some of the Odd Coinages of Gold," Michigan Manufacturer and Financial Record, Vol. 17, No. 24, June 10 (1916) : 53

Fig. 43. And the beat goes on! Another circular circulating among the coin dealers gets a harsh and stern warning once again from the guardians, this time Edgar Holmes Adams. This motivated Adams to publish in 1913 his book on this very subject. This circular might have been a revised Nathan Joseph circular, but we already know there were several San Francisco dealers selling these for many years. The Numismatist, February (1913) : 108.  

            The very rare Paradisornis Rudolphi or “Blue Bird of Paradise” at the Park Museum came to America by Nathan Joseph who purchased it in London from W. Fuller a naturalist, who had obtained it in New Guinea. Nat Raphael who bought Nathan Joseph's store sold the bird for seventy cents to a collector named Snyder, who in turn sold it to the Park Commissioners of San Francisco for $100. Prof William G. Blunt, Curator of the Natural History Department says it is worth $1,500 and only one other specimen is known in the British Museum. San Francisco Chronicle, Tuesday, November 12, 1912,  page 4.

Fig. 44. Notice of the death and probate of the will of Josephus Barnet Joseph and that Nathan Joseph is to serve as the administrator for the real estate and financial properties in America. Oakland Tribune, Friday, November 17, 1916, page 23.

Figs. 45 & 46. Will of Joseph Barnet Joseph.

Fig. 47. November 1916 newspaper notice reporting that Nathan Joseph was struck by an unlicensed taxi.  Oakland Tribune, Friday, November 17, 1916, page 23.

        He died on August 20, 1924, and was buried September 2, 1924 at the Hills of Eternity Memorial Park Congregation Sherith Israel, Colma, San Mateo County, California.

Fig. 48. Tombstone of Nathan Joseph at the Hills of Eternity Memorial Park Congregation Sherith Israel, Colma, San Mateo County, California.


[1] Louis J. Rasumussen, San Francisco Ship Passengers Lists (Colma, California : The Author, 1966) Volume 2 : April 6, 1850-November 4, 1851, page 384
[2] Louis J. Rasumussen, San Francisco Ship Passengers Lists, (Colma, California : The Author, 1970) Volume 4 : June 17, 1852-January 6, 1853, page 471 
[3] See also Theron J. Wierenga, Updated Trip Tables of the California Gold Rush Mail Agents, U. S. Philatelic Classics Society -  Scroll down to the third piece of mail illustrated.
[4] The origins of this idiomatic expression are in the late 17th century:  "Flash in the pan" derives from the military arts regarding a flintlock and its firing or misfiring. Frequently used in the latter sense as in misfiring a gun, and used in French as "Faire faux fèu". The phrase took on a double entendre in the early days of the Gold Rush seeing the immediate association with the miner's pan and having a similar meaning to misfire or fizzle when the miner failed to find gold and frequently they would say "it fizzled out". Here we see a possible very early use of the phrase in 1853 as a transfer from a gun misfiring to "a flash in the pan" "it didn't pan out" or "it fizzled out".
[5] Robert D. Leonard, Jr., "Joseph Brothers," in Breen/Gillio, California Pioneer Fractional Gold (Bowers and Merena Galleries, 2nd Revised edition, 2003) : 26, claims Nathan did not arrive in San Francisco until 1868, although U. S. Federal Census documents claim he arrived in 1858.
[6] Rev. Joseph and Alice Annand, Journals, entry for February 8, 1887.

Acknowledgements :

Thanks to Robert D. Leonard, Jr., for reading this article and writing to me pointing out his revised 2d edition of the Breen/Gillio, California Pioneer Fractional Gold (Bowers and Merena Galleries, 2nd Revised edition, 2003) : 25-27. Citations of his article that conflict with known documented material facts have been highlighted in red.  There is no malice intended here doing that. Bob Leonard has done excellent research and new information surfaces all the time which shifts and changes our perspectives. Also thanks to Bob Leonard we have the original June 29, 1852 article read by him and noted that no new information was found therein. Also, Bob Leonard was the first numismatist to publish the photograph of Nathan Joseph in his 2nd edition of Breen/Gillio cited above. Finally, thanks are due to Bob Leonard for the discovery of the advertisement of the Joseph Brothers in the Sacramento Daily Union, January 19, 1852, page 3

Thanks to Mike Locke for pointing out I inadvertently omitted his name on his TAMS article. Also, he updated us about the 2 Wah (TOO WAH) gold tokens informing me several new varieties have been discovered and the design patent is available online.

Thanks to David Sklow, ANA Librarian, for sending me a copy of the Breen/Gillio, California Pioneer Fractional Gold (Bowers and Merena Galleries, 2nd Revised edition, 2003) for my research.

Thanks to Debra Kaufman, Library Reproduction & Reference Associate, California Historical Society, for her gracious assistance in helping me obtain a scan of the photograph of Nathan Joseph. Forthcoming.

Thanks to one of the website and E-Sylum readers, James Webber, for citing the February 1949 notice published in Numismatic Scrapbook, which was most certainly the first ever numismatic literature citation of the June 29, Times-Picayune, report on a gold half dollar, made by the inestimable Charles, M. Cottin, Jr.

Bibliography :

1851 England Census lists Barnet Lyon Joseph as a Silversmith at 42 Bold Street, Liverpool. Nathan Joseph is still at school at the time.

1852 San Francisco City Directory – Joseph Bros. Jewelers,  175 Clay Street

Daily Alta California, December 13, 1855, page 4, column 3.

1858 Charles I. Bushnell, An Arrangement of Tradesmen's Cards and Political Tokens, 66

San Francisco Chronicle, Saturday, December 8, 1866 – May 9, 1868 Close Out Sale

Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, Vol. IX (1876) : 798

1880 U. S. Census –San Francisco Variety Merchant Born in England 1835 parents from England

 1892 New York City Directory 175 East 4th Street

Jewelers’ Circular, Vol. 26, No. 3, February 15, 1895, 26-f Chicago, the store of the Joseph Bros. & Co. has been closed on a chattel mortgage.

1899 San Francisco City Directory Residence : 1040 Masonic Avenue; Curio Shop 641 Clay Street

 1900 U. S. Census –San Francisco Curio Dealer Born in England born August 1832 became U. S. Citizen 1858

Edith Coxhead, “Curious Musical Instruments in the Park Museum,” Overland Monthly, Vol. 39, No. 1, January 1902 ; 533-543, especially 536

1904 San Francisco City Directory Residence : 30 Baker Street; Curio Shop 604 Merchant Street

New Era Illustrated Magazine, Vol. 6, No. 6, June (1905) : 660

“Aged Nathan Joseph Victim of Automobile” San Francisco Call, Sunday, April 28, 1907, front page

1911 England Census

Edgar Holmes Adams, Private Gold Coinage of California, 1849-55, Its History and Its Issues (1913)

Frank E. Carter, "Some of the Odd Coinages of Gold," Michigan Manufacturer and Financial Record, Vol. 17, No. 24, June 10 (1916) : 53

David Rome, The First Two Years : A Record of the Jewish Pioneers on Canada’s Pacific Coast, 1858-1860. (H. M. Caiserman, 1942) : 15

Kurt R. Krueger, Numismatists of Wisconsin, May 10-11, 1980, Featured A. Grafton collection of 189 pieces of Fractional California Gold

Theron Wierenga, The Gold Rush Mail Agents to California and Their Postal Markings, 1849-1852 (Muskegon, Michigan: Theron Wierenga, 1987)

Walter Breen, Walter Breen’s Complete Encyclopedia of U. S. and Colonial Coins (Doubleday, 1988) : 7884, page 648

Jerry F. Schimmel, "San Francisco Through Its Tokens : The Joseph Brothers", Originally published by the Pacific Coast Numismatic Society and reprinted in Calcoin News, Vol. 43, No. 2, Spring (1989) : 46. Schimmel errs thinking the Joseph Brothers were watchmakers at 149 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, California, from 1854-1880. Later on moving to 607 Montgomery Street. Schimmel provides us with two important notes : (1) No previous biography of the Joseph Brothers has been written; (2) their store card is typical of diesinkers of Birmingham, England. Schimmel since then has published The Old Streets of San Francisco :  Early Street Names on Some Bras Tokens, PCNS Monograph No. 1 (San Francisco : PCNS, 1993)

Jay Roe, “Nathan Joseph’s Original Solid Gold Tokens,” Brasher Bulletin, Newsletter of S.P.P.N., Vol. II, No. 3 (1989) : 12

Jay Roe, “The Alaska 2 TOO WAH,” Brasher Bulletin, Newsletter of S.P.P.N.,  Vol. III, No. 3 (1990) : 

Russ Rulau, Standard Catalog of United States Tokens 1700-1900.  (Krause, 1997) 2d edition “Joseph Brothers” page 182

Walter Breen, Ronald J. Gillio, and Robert D. Leonard, Jr., eds., California Pioneer Fractional Gold (Bowers and Merena Galleries, 2nd Revised edition, 2003) : 25-27

Alvyn Austin and Jamie S. Scott, eds., Canadian Missionaries, Indigenous Peoples (University of Toronto Press, 2005) : 270

Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Long Beach, Saturday, September 16, 2006, Session Eight, Lot 6196 –Joseph Bros. Store Copper Card Rulau Calif 6.

 Mike Locke, “The Post-1906 Tokens of Nathan Joseph and His Imitators,” TAMS Journal 48 : 2

Dr. Robert J. Chandler, “Fractionals Are Fun,” Brasher Bulletin, Newsletter of S.P.P.N.,  Vol. 1, No. 2, March (2013) : 11-20, especially 14 & 15 

D. Wayne Johnson, Who’s Who Among American Medalists. (2015) : 149, very brief and incomplete entry on the Joseph Brothers.