US Coins

Sold 1853 California gold half features rare design

More than $6.385 million in rare coins traded hands at Kagin’s auction held in conjunction with the American Numismatic Association National Money Show in Orlando, Fla.

Core collections in the auction included the Dr. Christopher Allan Collection of Bechtler Coins, which is among the finest sets of this North Carolina pioneer gold coinage ever assembled. With its home base in the San Francisco area, Kagin’s has a particular expertise in pioneer gold coins, including California gold, so it is only fitting that the auction offered strong examples of these fascinating and specialized areas.

Here is one of three we profile in this Market Analysis:

The Lot:

1853 California gold half dollar, round, Mint State 63

The Price:


The Story: 

Kagin’s is well-known for being a leading dealer in the California small-denomination gold market. These tiny coins were struck beginning in 1852 to help alleviate a shortage of quarter dollar, half dollar and dollar coins in the area. They proved impractical for commerce, but became popular souvenirs. Some are round and others are octagonal in shape.

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Most issues have either Indian or Liberty Head portraits, so collectors value the less-encountered issues with the Arms of California on the obverse.

”ThomasHow to spot a counterfeit 1928 China ‘Auto’ dollar: Inside Coin World: We at Coin World report often on fake U.S. coin rarities coming from China, but not so often about fake Chinese coin rarities.

The maker of these is unknown but the key book on the series, California Pioneer Fractional Gold, speculates that they’re the work of San Francisco jewelers Braverman & Levy, since George Ferdinand Albrecht Küner both engraved the Great Seal of California and worked at the store between 1852 and 1854. It is in constant demand from type collectors and the sale’s PCGS MS-63 example with “lovely blue circular (‘album’ type) toning on obverse,” sold for $12,925.

Keep Reading About Kagin’s Sale of Pioneer Gold Coins:

Pioneer $2.50 Gold coinThis Clark, Gruber & Co. coin served a dual purpose when it was minted:  Clark, Gruber & Co. was a private minting firm in Denver that manufactured gold issues dated 1860 and 1861.

Pioneer $2.50 Gold coinA $2.50 pioneer gold coin tops sale of Allan Collection of Bechtler coins: Kagin’s writes regarding the hand-struck coin, “The crudeness of the punch devices is a delight to behold in this day and age of homogenized perfection.”

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