Numismatic experts have identified a new variety of octagonal 1854
California gold dollar, part of a series of privately issued small
denomination or "fractional" gold pieces with face values of
$1 or less.
Announcement of the attribution was made jointly by Stack's Bowers
Galleries and Numismatic Guaranty Corp., the grading service where the
gold piece was recently submitted for authentication and grading.
NGC graded and encapsulated the piece About Uncirculated 55.
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NGC graders tried to attribute the submission according to the BG
cataloging numbers in California Pioneer Fractional Gold by
Walter Breen and Ronald J. Gillio but determined the piece's
diagnostics did not perfectly match any of the known varieties listed
in the reference.
According to Stack's Bowers and NGC, it was determined that the
octagonal 1854 California gold dollar was positively struck from the
same reverse die as BG-529, identified by the two stars between GOLD
and DERI, but the obverse was different.
NGC brought the coin to the American Numismatic Association World’s
Fair of Money held Aug. 9 to 13 in Anaheim, Calif., to show it to
Gillio, who serves as executive director of consignments and
numismatic acquisitions coordinator for Stack’s Bowers Galleries.
Gillio, along with John M. Pack, also executive director of
consignments for Stack’s Bowers, and numismatic researcher Robert D.
Leonard Jr., confirmed that this piece is a new variety, which they
listed as BG-529a.
The obverse portrait on the 1854 BG-529a variety closely resembles
the portrait of Liberty rendered on the Coronet gold dollars struck by
the U.S. Mint, except without LIBERTY inscribed on the coronet.
California fractional gold pieces were struck by private mints in
California to fill a need for small denominations in commerce. The
coins were issued beginning in 1852 in 25-cent, 50-cent and $1 denominations.
New California fractional gold varieties are seldom identified, with
a new discovery made only once every four or five years.