Two skilled German metallurgists, Christopher Bechtler and his son August, opened a private mint at Rutherford, North Carolina. The area was the principal source of the nation's gold supply from 1790 to 1840.
Bechtler and his predecessors ran the mint in from 1831 until the 1850s and produced more than a million gold coins from 1831 till 1841. Bechtler's precision and the reliable gold content of his coins allowed him to prevail against other producers and to obtain a large fortune.
Because their coins were not copies of coins produced by the U.S. Mint, Bechtler’s coins were not considered counterfeit. The U.S. Mint repeatedly tested Bechtler coins; finding in each case that they contained the amount of gold claimed and were, therefore, of equal (and sometimes superior) value to U.S. coins of the same denominations. As Bechtler coins made their way into the market they became so popular that in many cases they were preferred over U.S. coins. For some years they were more abundant in the south than U.S. coins.
Each of the Bechtler coins was produced using a hand-operated coin press and dies that had been made by the Bechtlers.
After separating the raw gold from the rock or gravel, it was smelted and poured into a mold. Some gold remained in the form of ingots, but much more was further processed into coins.
The Bechtlers began their mint in 1831 by producing $5 and $2.50 coins. In 1832, perceiving a need for a smaller denomination, the family began issuing a $1 gold coin that is recognized as the first gold dollar coined in the United States. It would be another 17 years before the U.S. Mint issued $1 gold coins.
This Bechtler $5 coin weighs 140 grains and is of the scarce variety where the "20" is distant from the "C" (carats).