"Christopher Bechtler minted the first gold dollar ever made in the United States. And this is a distinct first for North Carolina, for Rutherford County, that it was made in Bechtler's small, family-run mint."
-- Richard Knapp, Historic Sites Curator

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why was it legal for the Bechtlers to mint their own coins?
    The Bechtlers never represented their coinage as legal tender. They issued coins with the same amount of gold as the U.S. government coins of the same denominations, but their coins were marked with the quantity of gold in grams and the name Bechtler and/or the location: North Carolina, Rutherfordton or Rutherford.
  • Where were the Bechtlers buried?
    No one knows. At the time that they died in the early 1840s, Christopher Sr., and his sons Augustus and Charles were apparently buried on the property where the mint was located approximately 3 miles north of Rutherfordton. No graves have been found there during archaeological explorations and none were visible during a site visit in 1905 by a grandson of the English geologist Featherstonhaugh. A gravestone for Chas. C. Bachtler (1790-1878) and his wife Anna Fleck Bachtler (1805-1887) is in Elmwood Cemetery, Charlotte, NC. The dates make it likely that this is Carl Christ Bechtler (also known as Christopher Bechtler Jr.)
  • Are any descendants of Christopher Bechtler still living?
    Christopher Bechtler had at least two daughters who remained in Germany. It is very possible that they had descendants, but we have not traced them. No descendants of the sons who came to North Carolina with him are known. The nephew, known as Christopher Bechtler, Jr., and his wife Sophie Flack (also known as Anna Fleck Bachtler), had several children. Christopher Bechtler Jr. moved to South Carolina in the 1850s, but seems to have been buried in Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • Can I buy a Bechtler coin?
    Bechtler coins can still be found through collectors and coin shows. Their prices vary widely, and counterfeit coins are not uncommon. Buyers should be cautious. In the September 2012 collectibles market, fair-to-good quality Bechtler $1 coins sell for between $2,400 to $3,600. Near-perfect specimens may sell for $5,000 or more. The $2.50 and $5 coins often bring higher prices ($10,000 and up) because the gold content is higher and because they are more difficult to find. It is not unusual, however, to find rare Bechtler coins priced at $25,000 or more.
  • Where can I mine for gold?
    In Rutherford County, several sites are open to the public for gold mining, including Thermal City Gold Mine, Broad River Gems and Mining Company and Chimney Rock Gem Mine.

Online Resources

Print Resources

  • Rodney Barfield and Keith Strawn, The Bechtlers and their Coinage: North Carolina Mint Masters of Pioneer Gold, 65 pages. North Carolina Museum of History, Division of Archives and History. 1980. A comprehensive catalog of the Bechtler coinage.
  • P. Albert Carpenter, III, Gold in North Carolina. 52 pages. North Carolina Geological Survey Information Circular 29, 1993, Reprinted 1995, 1999. A technical survey of the geology of gold-bearing rock formations, the history of mining in each region and details on specific (subsurface) mines.
  • Richard F. Knapp and Brent D. Glass, Gold Mining in North Carolina. A Bicentennial History. 192 pages. Division of Archives and History, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. 1999. The primary focus of this book is on the development of industrial scale mining at the Reed Gold Mine, Gold Hill Mining District and other subsurface mining enterprises east of Charlotte.
  • Robin S. Lattimore, Gold and Glory: North Carolina Gold and the Bechtler Heritage, 44 pages. Hilltop Publications, 2007.

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