Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 37

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Lot 2561

1851 U.S. Assay Office $50 "slug", 887 THOUS. Reeded edge. NGC graded MS-62. Nice luster and scarce in mint state. An solid Mint State in all regards and one of the most historic artifacts of the California Gold Rush: real money used by the businessmen and trading houses that propelled California into the front pages of the news around the world. The satiny surfaces are alight with sizzling gold luster, the strike is clear-cut with clarity on most of the marginal lettering, and the eye appeal is nothing short of exceptional. This is the form of gold taken from the ground, with a purity of 887 Thous. Fine gold. The ideal was to make these .900 Fine, but due to a lack of parting acids the private minters (and later the U.S. Mint) had difficulty refining all the gold bullion that flooded in. So the workaround was to bring the fineness to an acceptable (for exchange purposes) 887.

The $50 octagonal "slug," called an adobe in local trade was a mainstay of California commerce in the first years of the gold rush. Such pieces were used in large transactions, being the coin of choice in payment for shipments to local merchants such as John Sutter, who had a trading post near Sacramento. Curiously, paper money was illegal in the state (under the Constitution of 1850), and lesser denomination gold coins were not readily available. Octagonal $50 pieces were last minted in 1851 and 1852, but were continued in use for much of the rest of the decade gaining wide acceptance. Pop 3; none higher.
Estimated Value $100,000 - 120,000.

Realized $132,250

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