A unique, inverted Augustus Humbert lettered-edge United States
Assay Office gold $50 ingot will be among the lots offered Nov. 29 and
30 in the 2011 Grand Finale Auction conducted by Holabird Kagin Americana.
The two-session auction begins at 10 a.m. both days and will be
held at the Atlantis Casino Resort in Reno, Nev.
$50 gold ingot
Augustus Humbert was the first United States assayer in
California. He was appointed by the U.S. Congress.
The first USAO $50 ingots were produced in February 1851 and
released Feb. 21, 1851.
The ingot in the auction contains an inverted AUGUSTUS
hand-stamped on the edge of the piece and an incomplete date.
“About 300 were ready for release on that date, which were the
very first $50 slugs released into circulation,” according to Fred
Holabird. “Each of these are of the rare lettered edge variety, with
die struck obverse and reverse and individually letter or word gang
punched edges containing the words AUGUSTUS HUMBERT UNITED STATES
ASSAYER OF GOLD CALIFORNIA 1851.”
According to Holabird: “With a stiff production demand, mistakes
in punching the edges were made, probably particularly at the onset of
production. The coin offered in this sale is one of these early
mistakes, containing an inverted ‘Augustus’ on the edge and an
Holabird said the piece was graded Mint State 60 by Numismatic
Guaranty Corp. and “is one of only a handful of Mist State first stage
octagonal $50 ingots, and is the only known piece so attributed with
these significant errors.”
Holabird said, “Since these early produced slugs were hand made,
it makes sense that the mistakes are inconsistent, and through time,
it is expected that other mistakes will be known such that a larger
study group may emerge.” He said to date the piece is the “only known
inversion of Humbert’s name, as well as an incomplete date.”
Holabird said the consignor “reached out to me because he felt
there might be a story attached to it that might be hidden in
history,” Holabird said. “At the time, he did not know that I’d been
working on Moffat and Humbert for some time, having made several trips
to National Archives and other archival facilities. The result is the
chapter offered in this catalog which offers new research and
information in this ongoing research project.”
Another showcase piece to be offered is a 100 troy pound silver
ingot from the Nuestra Senora de Atocha. It is one of only
four ingots of the original 962 silver ingots recovered from the
shipwreck that weigh more than 100 troy pounds.
According to Holabird: “It is the fourth largest silver ingot
recovered from the Atocha and was the finest and most
ornately marked bar in the first Atocha auction held at
Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas in September, 1987. It has been in the
hands of the original buyer since that time.”
Other lots in the auction include a collection of pioneer gold
coinage; a collection of gold coins, gold tokens and gold in quartz
jewelry; one of the two finest collections of more than 100 California
counters and gaming counters; and high-grade ore specimens. Among the
consignments is the Al Vinegar Collection of Indian Traders, Military,
Arizona and New Mexico Tokens (pioneer minor coinage), which is “among
the best ever assembled,” according to Holabird.
Several letter and document archives, including some of the
earliest correspondence known from the gold mining camp of Murphy’s in
Calaveras County, Calif., will be offered. Other consignments include
part of a Walt Disney family archive that contains documents and
correspondence dating back to 1912; the N.E. Johnson Collection of
Nevada, California and Arizona photographs; revenue-stamped documents;
and saloon jugs, bottles, tokens, ephemera, photographs, good-for
mirrors and bawdy-related pieces including many pieces from European
and Mexican brothels.
In addition, parts of the Lloyd Fenske, Gil Schmidtmann and Clint
Maish collections of western mining stocks will be offered.
Lot preview will be from noon to 6 p.m. Nov. 28 at the Atlantis
Casino Resort and remain open during both auction days. Bids will be
accepted by telephone, fax, via email or in person at the live event.
The entire catalog with full color, high-resolution images will be
accessible on iCollector.com by
visiting the firm’s website at www.HolabirdAmericana.com
and clicking on the link.
Holabird urges collectors planning to attend the auction in person
to visit the online catalog prior to preview and come prepared with
their lot list and questions.
For a copy of the printed catalog, available the first week in
November, contact the firm at Holabird-Kagin Americana, 3555 Airway
Drive, No. 308, Reno, NV 89511, or by telephone 775-852-8822, by fax
775-852-8866, or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. ■