Lambskin Money Vest Worn by Gold Rush Pioneer Levi Brigham in San Francisco, 1853. The vest has three rows of button pockets for holding gold and silver coins, the medium of exchange in California. The interior of the pockets clearly show the dark imprint of coins. The top pocket has "Note the imprint of the gold coins in the pockets" written in ink. The vest has two shoulder straps and a waist belt. The vest is stamped twice (one indistinct) with "C. B. Hatch / Patent / Safety Pouch / 1852 / 97 William St. N. York". The vest has "Money Belt Worn by Levi Brigham in San Francisco in 1853" written under the neck.

    The money vest belonged to Levi Brigham, who in 1852, moved from Tidioute, Pennsylvania to San Francisco with his brothers and a brother-in-law. In California, the brothers secured one of the few water-wells in San Francisco, making a small fortune by supplying drinking water to the rapidly growing population. The drought that struck San Francisco in the summer of 1852 drove the price of water up to a dollar for twenty barrels and allowed the brothers to purchase a horse and a delivery cart of $1400 in gold. They sold their water business and secured a mill for grinding wheat and oats. At the mercy of their grain suppliers, the brothers soon found themselves loosing much of the water profits. Little more than a year later, they returned to their families in Pennsylvania. The Brigham brothers became railroad contractors and later, during the Civil War, suppliers to the Union Army. Levi Brigham devoted himself to farming. He died in 1889 at the age of 65. Please see the previous lot for a daguerreotype of their delivery cart and other items from the Levi Brigham family archive.

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    Auction Dates
    November, 2010
    17th Wednesday
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