Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 48

Lot 1736

1855 Wass, Molitor & Co. (San Francisco) $50 Gold. NGC graded AU-58. Housed in NGC holder 5026290-004. An excellent example for the grade and free from the heavy digs and rim bruses that usually accompany this massive round coin. This historic and nicely preserved AU58 $50 gold piece has rare beauty that comes with fully defined design features plus a strict limitation on surface marks. What's more, the rims are choicer than average for what is often a bunged-about Type, wherein use in circulation tended to damage the soft rim areas. While the octagonal fifties from the Assay Office get much of the news reportage in the American numismatic press, that is only because they are seen ten times more often than a Wass $50 piece.

The firm of Wass, Molitor & Company was comprised of Samuel Wass and Agoston Molitor, who operated their well-respected private mint in the Bay area from 1852. Their first deliveries consisted of five- and ten-dollar gold pieces for local use. They ceased minting when the San Francisco Mint opened in 1854, but resumed with production of the famous $50 denomination round gold coins in 1855. This was at a time when the federal facility was obliged to close from time to time for lack of proper parting acids to refine gold dust with the requisite copper alloy. The fifty dollar Wass, Molitor pieces filled the void at this critical time. Reports are the Wass Molitor coinage had one of the highest intrinsic values of any of the private issues in California. Many were subsequently melted. Pop 2; 8 finer (PCGS # 10363) .

According to Dr. Donald Kagin, "Wass, Molitor & Co. closed down their operation soon after the 1855 issues were distributed, for the 1856-1857 San Francisco Directory lists the assaying firm of Wass (Karoly) Usznay & Co. as operating during 1856 and 1857. Haraszthy replaced Molitor as partner in this firm, as the latter had left California for London in 1856." Dr. Kagin's book "Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States," gives an detailed account of the Territorial issues, including a full description of the Wass, Molitor company and its gold coins.
Estimated Value $80,000 - 90,000.


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