Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 57

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Lot 2732

1851 U.S. Assay Office $50 "slug", 880 THOUS. Lettered edge, no 50 on reverse. PCGS graded EF-40. Humbert. Nice for the grade. Light reverse scratches. A classy coin and a well struck one by any benchmark. What's more, this has an engaging look because of its wide rim area (much of the lettering that would appear on the obverse of the coins in the alternative design are placed on the edge. The eagle is well defined, as is the shield it holds. Where wear occurs is, as always, on the highest portion of the design. The denomination reads 50 D [BLANK] C, with the 50 incuse, having been entered with a punch by the pressman after the coin was struck. An historic relic of a period almost completely forgotten by contemporary Americans. The California Gold rush produced reams of articles and literature in its day, a whole host of interesting and controversial Territorial Gold coins, and a reminder of what it must have been live the life of a pioneer in those far off days. Pop 4; 37 finer (PCGS # 10196) .

The Humbert and Assay Office pieces more or less were the cause of the disappearance of the earlier California territorial gold coins from circulation once they came on stream in 1851. In 1849 and 1850, California mints such as Norris, Gregg & Norris, Pacific Company and the Miner's Bank provided the contemporary gold pieces. These turned out to be light weight upon assaying and a scandal ensued. The bankers refused to accept them except with a discount. Most of these early territorial gold coins were melted at the Assay office which turned them into more acceptable $50 ingots or "slugs" as they were known.

By late 1851, these $50 pieces dominated commerce. Due to their high value and the limited number of small denomination gold coins in circulation, business was done under very difficult circumstances. Change for the cumbersome slugs consisted of foreign coins for the most part, which traded above their bullion value. (At the time, privately issued paper money wasn't acceptable in California the way it was in other areas of the country.).
Estimated Value $30,000 - 35,000.


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