Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 48

Lot 1733

1852 U.S. Assay Office $50 "slug", 887 THOUS. Reeded edge. NGC graded AU-55. Some light tone rests within the legends. Wonderful still-lustrous surfaces are flourishing with rich reddish gold color and brilliance, all natural and immersed in the history of the California gold rush. Well struck for the date, with all obverse details present, including the outer legend which reads AUGUSTUS HUMBERT UNITED STATES ASSAYER OF GOLD CALIFORNIA 1852. Rarely does anything approaching "full" occur on these often unevenly struck pieces. Fully struck coins like this are desirable. Also, most examples of these large "slugs" are considerably worn and exhibit substantial damage. The present offering is a happy exception.

The $50 octagonal "slug," sometimes called an adobe in local trade, was the mainstay of California business in the first chaotic years of the gold rush (1849-55). Such pieces were for large transactions only, being the medium of choice, since paper money was illegal in California under the Constitution of 1850. At the time, lesser denomination gold coins were not plentiful.

Octagonal $50 pieces were last minted in 1852, but in use for much of the decade until the San Francisco mint coinage became abundant. Many slugs went to the Philadelphia Mint, where they were melted into bullion, then recast into federal denominations. Pop 5; 14 finer (PCGS # 10217) .
Estimated Value $35,000 - 40,000.

Realized $36,800

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