US Coins

Behold this 1852 Augustus Humbert gold $50 piece

Kagin’s held its West Coast Auction on Sept. 15 in conjunction with the Santa Clara Coin Expo in California, and as expected, privately issued pioneer and territorial gold coins stole the show. As the firm’s president Don Kagin wrote in the introduction, the convention is “by far the largest coin show in northern California,” concluding, “so it is fitting that this sale features some of the most iconic and fascinating coins and related material associated with the great California Gold Rush.”

One of those fascinating coins is featured here:

The Lot:

1852 Augustus Humbert U.S. Assay Office of Gold $50 slug, MS-62, CAC

The Price:

$276,125

The Story:

Augustus Humbert carried the title United States Assayer of Gold and among his best-known creations for the United States Assay Office of Gold are octagonal ingots carrying the $50 denomination, though they were not routinely receivable at face value for most government payments.


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The impressive and heavy pieces traveled widely and were well-received in the Western United States because of the lack of regular issue coins. Examples are also known today as slugs, though it is officially considered an ingot.

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In 1852 the private company United States Assay Office of Gold in San Francisco struck two major types of $50 slugs — one marked 900 THOUS and another 887 THOUS (referring to the fineness of the gold). The offered 887 THOUS Target Reverse Reeded Edge example — graded Mint State 62 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. and bearing a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker — is listed as Kagin 13 in the series reference by Don Kagin. Kagin’s writes in the lot description, “This impressive medium gold specimen is alive with luster in the satiny fields and across the design motifs.” The piece topped bidding at Kagin’s Sept. 15 auction, realizing $276,125.

 


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