US Coins

Market Analysis: Backdating gold piece to avoid trouble

An octagonal Indian Head 50-cent piece is backdated 1852, but was produced around 1881 to 1883. This one is exceptional, graded MS-67 Deep Mirror Prooflike by NGC and realized $5,160.

Images courtesy of Kagin’s.

The California small-denomination gold issues are generally split into two periods. Period 1 pieces were issued from 1852 and 1857 and contemporary evidence strongly suggests that they were intended to circulate as small change. Starting in 1859, various private entities made them as souvenirs and these are called Period 2 issues.

Kagin’s offered an octagonal 1852-dated Indian Head 50-cent piece listed as BG-962 in the Breen-Gillio reference, struck around 1881 to 1883 and graded MS-67 Deep Mirror Prooflike by Numismatic Guaranty Co. The piece features especially crisp details and brought $5,160.

It was produced by Christopher Mohrig.

Although the Coinage Act of April 22, 1864, made private coins illegal, broad enforcement of the law around 1883 brought this charming series to a close. Though, as the “Red Book” explains, “To circumvent the law, and to make them more acceptable, some pieces made after 1881 were backdated to the 1850s or 1860s” as seen here.

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