US Coins

Market Analysis: Was this made for jewelry?

New discoveries are exciting! One can imagine finding this round 1854 California gold “dollar” locket at a thrift shop or local auction, and then discovering that it is a rare variety.

Stack’s Bowers offered this intriguing piece at its Aug. 27, 2022, Global Showcase Auction, where the auction house graded it Extremely Fine 45, observing that it has a loop attached to it for suspension and is hinged on the edge. The cataloger writes, “This was carefully masked by the maker, with the rims of both sides making it invisible from obverse or reverse examination, suggesting a great degree of care and skill in its production.”

It was discovered in a box of scrap gold, likely destined for the melting pot, and a check of the Breen-Gillio reference to the privately minted series identified it as the rare type that was likely never a traditional coin. The cataloger explains, “Both the obverse and reverse, the ‘coin’ design surfaces, were clearly produced as shells from the outset.” The variety is represented by another example, also a hinged locket.

The one in the auction sold for $38,000.

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