US Coins

Quirky counterstamp adds dental ad to gold $10 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 pieces of gold is featured below:

The Lot:

Counterstamped 1852 Augustus Humbert U.S. Assay Office of gold $10 piece, Very Fine 30

The Price: 


The Story:

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.

Making your worthless notes worth something”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.

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