US Coins

Market Analysis: Small-denomination California gold pieces

A round 1872 Washington 25-cent piece of California small-denomination gold from the Maurice Storck Collection graded MS-65 realized $1,560 on Oct. 15.

All images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

Heritage’s Oct. 15 offering of small-sized California small-denomination gold pieces from the Maurice Storck Collection was one of the largest groupings of the specialized collecting area offered in recent memory.

These tiny pieces were privately struck beginning in 1852 from native California gold to address a scarcity of small coins during the gold rush. They were both challenging to handle due to their small size and were frequently underweight when compared to their face value.

While most of their obverse designs emulate the contemporary Coronet circulating coins, depictions of Native Americans and even George Washington are seen.

A round 1872 Washington 25-cent piece is listed as Breen-Gillio 818 in Walter Breen and Ronald J. Gillio’s book California Pioneer Fractional Gold. While the portrait and denomination both show a bit of weakness as typically seen on the issue, Heritage praised its attractive red and green-gold color. Graded Mint State 65 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., it realized $1,560.

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