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 pieces of gold is featured below:
Counterstamped 1852 Augustus Humbert U.S. Assay Office of gold $10
piece, Very Fine 30
In contrast to the $50 slugs, the 1852 and 1853 gold $10 issues of
the United States Assay Office of Gold were more traditional in
appearance and seemed to enjoy extensive local circulation. This one —
graded Very Fine 30 by NGC — is unique in that it carries a
counterstamp of H.H. Pierson and William W. Light, who were partners
in a dental business.
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Merchants would frequently counterstamp coins in the 19th century to
advertise their businesses, most often on small-denomination coins.
These counterstamps are infrequently seen on gold coins.
Make your ‘worthless’ note worth something
Have you noticed the weapons depicted on early American notes?
John Kraljevich Jr. puzzles over what’s generally missing from that
arsenal, in his “Collecting Paper” column.
Light was from Ohio and came to California with the original
‘49ers, but less is known about H.H. Pierson, who may have been born
in New York. The evenly worn coin has a prominent die crack on the reverse.
Kagin’s observes, “The deep golden surfaces of the host coin are
imbued with rich orange toning, especially in the fields.” The unique
pairing of host coin and counterstamp sold for a healthy $17,265.