||1 gram gold coin - Julius Popper||
~13 mm, 1 g, alloy with 86.4% gold and 13.2% silver, flat edge |
design symbolizing gold grains, inscription TIERRA DEL FUEGO, name of the issuer - POPPER and year 1889
|circle with design symbolizing gold grains, inside hammer and pickaxe, crossed and tied together with a ribbon, inscriptions EL PARAMO and UN GRAMO (El Paramo was the name of the settlement founded by Popper)|
The image of this coin is taken from HKMAL Coins, with the kind permission of Mr Anthony Kuak.
About Julius Popper and his coins
Julius Popper (1857 - 1893) was born in Bucharest to a Jewish intellectual family. He studied in France, becoming a mine engineer. He led the life of an adventurer, wandering over a large part of the world.
After an exploratory expedition on Tierra del Fuego (island shared by Chile and Argentina) Popper founded in 1887 a gold exploitation establishment that he called El Paramo - Wasteland - name also appearing on the coin. The town lives on nowadays under the name of Rio Grande. The gold rush attracted a lot of motley people, so Popper asked and got from the Argentinian authorities a police post, explorer's brother Maxim being appointed in charge of it.
Popper baptized some of the places he stumbled upon in his exploration with Romanian names, mentioning them as such on the map drawn up afterwards (some toponyms are still in use today): Carmen Sylva Mountains (queen Elisabeta - Elisabeth - was wife of Carol I - Charles - king of Romania and used Carmen Sylva as pen name), rivers Ureche and Rosetti etc..
Popper also struck another coin-medal, weighing 5 grams in gold, which features also inscription Lavaderos de Oro del Sud - the name of the company he had established. Local stamps were also issued and used.
As reason for striking own coin, Popper showed that paying the workers in gold dust is too impractical, so that the most convenient was to use coins. But as the harsh weather at the end of the world broke the communication with Argentina and the supply lines for long periods he was forced to produce himself medals of 1 and 5 grams. The pieces struck by Popper at El Paramo are very rare - it is thought that around ten pieces are left today, out of a total mass of one or two kilograms. A larger amount of gold - estimated at 175 kilograms - was turned in coins/medals in the mint of Buenos Aires.
The image of Julius Popper as bringer of civilization to Tierra del Fuego stands uncontested, marred only by the accusation according to which he has directly or indirectly participated to the extermination of onas indigenous population.