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Item:
ON1809

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Original U.S. California Gold Rush Carved Coconut Shell Flask named to Alexander Van Valen - Dated 1849

Regular price $2,495.00

Item Description

Original Item: One of a Kind. This is really lovely, a fully carved Coconut, engraved with Masonic symbols together with California's State symbol of a large Bear. These are on three large panels amid beautiful carved decorations, and it is mounted in Silver with a chained stopper/cork. This is possibly for use holding gunpowder, or more likely, some type of alcohol. We can detect the faint smell of whiskey.

The side of the coconut bears a silver shield plaque stating:-

ALEXANDER
VAN
VALEN
1849

The pice measures 6 1/2" tall and 4" at it's widest point, and it is a very rich deep brown color with wonderful patina. Overall it is in great shape, and very attractive.

As it happens, ALEXANDER VAN VALEN, like so many others of the time, got "GOLD FEVER" on hearing of the Gold discovery at Sutter's Mill in Northern California. He immediately set out with FOUR business partners to make their fortune. They all lived in New York City and in January 1849 departed on the Ocean Vessel "HERSILIA," destined for San Francisco by way of Cape Horn. The journey took 200 days! They arrived on August 8th 1849.

His small band labored for two whole years and like so many others came up "EMPTY", and returned to New York in 1851. Very fortunately for historians, Alexander Van Valen kept a hand written JOURNAL the entire trip and this now resides in the SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION and is available to be viewed on the Internet.

This fine Coconut Shell tells us however that he was a serious Free Mason as no doubt were his partners. An adventure with no reward for his wife and four Children he had left behind and returned to empty handed.

Ready to display, a wonderful memento of a treasure hunt and perhaps an important part of GOLD RUSH and CALIFORNIAN History.

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