Every Collection has a StoryThe Archives holds records that document the Smithsonian’s people, events, buildings, and research. The history of the Smithsonian is a vital part of the history of American experience, scientific exploration, and international cultural understanding.


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"The Mediator", c. 1855, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, img0039_hires.

August 29, 1838

James Smithson's legacy, in the form of British gold sovereigns packed in eleven boxes, as well as his personal effects, arrive with Richard Rush on the ship "Mediator" in the harbor of New York. The personal effects are deposited with the collector of the Port of New York on September 1. The gold is immediately deposited with the Bank of America, until September 1, when it is transferred to the Treasurer of the United States Mint in Philadelphia. The £104,960 and 8 shillings, 6 pence in gold sovereigns is melted down and reminted into United States coins worth $508,318.46. Smithson's personal effects remain in New York until June 1841, when the National Institute requests they be sent to Washington.More

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