Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 51

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Lot 1779

1851 U.S. Assay Office $50 "slug", 880 THOUS. Reeded edge. NGC graded Humbert AU-53. Light golden toning. A sparkling and lustrous specimen in high grade, with very choice surfaces all around and nicely defined design features. The burst of varying golden hues on both sides shows extensive areas of mint frostiness. The eight corners are especially nice as they are free from knocks.

The $50 octagonal "slug," was a golden bastion of California commerce during the first years of Statehood. Such pieces were used in large transactions, being the coin of choice, since the locals were repulsed by "paper" money. (Paper money was made illegal in the state under the Constitution of 1850.)

The octagonal $50 slugs were last made in 1852, after which the Assay Office closed; but the slugs themselves continued in use for many years thereafter. Often, they found their way to the various federal mints, where they were melted into bullion, then refashioned into federal denominations. Pop 12; 34 finer. (PCGS # 10211) .

When the Gold Rush began, California was a peculiarly lawless place. On the day when gold was discovered in 1848 at Sutter's Mill, California was still technically part of Mexico, under American military occupation as the result of the Mexican-American War. With the signing of the treaty ending the war on February 2, 1848, California became a possession of the United States, but it was not a formal "territory" and did not become a state until September 9, 1850.
Estimated Value $32,000 - 35,000.

Realized $28,750

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