Smithson's Legacy and Effects Arrive in NY

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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 (Goode, p. 833). 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 8s, 6d 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.


  • Rush, Richard 1780-1859
  • Smithson, James 1765-1829
  • Bank of America
  • Mediator (Ship)
  • National Institute
  • National Institution for the Promotion of Science
  • Patent Office Building (POB)
  • United States Mint
  • United States Patent Office
  • United States Dept. of the Treasury


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Goode, George Brown, ed. The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896, The History of Its First Half Century. Washington, D.C.: De Vinne Press, 1897., p. 30, 833
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1879, p. 157, 172
  • Rhees, William Jones. The Smithsonian Institution: Documents Relative to Its Origin and History: 1835-1899, Vol. 1, 1835-1887. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1901., p. 100-102

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


August 29, 1838


  • Smithson Bequest
  • National Collections


New York (N.Y.)

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