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Important 1850 Mormon Five, K-5, MS61
One of the Finest Extant

1850 $5 Mormon Five Dollar MS61 NGC. K-5, High R.5. Those familiar with the history of Mormon Territorial gold pieces immediately recognize the significance of any Mint State survivor, regardless of the date or denomination. In fact, it is believed that fewer than 30 Uncirculated specimens exist from the six different issues minted between 1849 and 1860. While there are several factors contributing to the condition rarity of gold coinage issued by the Mormon Church in the State of Deseret--which later became the Utah Territory--the most significant cause was the substandard weight and fineness of the coins. Jacob Eckfeldt and William DuBois provide a contemporary account of the Mormon gold issues in the third edition of their New Varieties of Gold and Silver Coins published in 1852:

"The Mormon coinage, although executed in the Territory of Utah, is without impropriety classed amongst California coins, on account of neighborhood, and the source whence the material is derived. These are the four denominations of twenty, ten, five, and two and a half dollars. Although there is much irregularity both in weight and fineness, the denominations are tolerably in proportion to each other. A parcel made up of all sizes, and counting $562.50, yielded at the mint $479.20; say $8.52 to the ten dollar piece. The fineness was .886."

Eckfeldt and DuBois' 1852 account was more charitable than their opinion of Mormon gold coinage written two years earlier, when they stated that "the weights are more irregular and the values very deficient." In fact, the Mormon issues had the lowest values of any California Territorial coins tested by the Mint at the time of their publication. Nationwide, newspapers printed warnings regarding the inferior Mormon gold coins and, as a direct result, the pieces traded at discounts ranging from 10% to 25% of their face value (Kagin, 1981). It is for this reason that most of the Utah Territorial gold pieces were melted during the ensuing years.
It is believed that less than 100 1850 Mormon half eagles have survived to this day, and most of those examples are well circulated or otherwise impaired. As of (1/09), NGC has certified only three examples at the MS61 level, although it is possible that this number includes a resubmission of the same coin. The combined NGC and PCGS population of Mint State 1850 Mormon fives is a mere five pieces, with none grading finer than MS61 at either service. Again, this issue is a condition rarity. Since we began maintaining our online auction archives in the early 1990s, the finest 1850 Mormon half eagle to cross the Heritage auction block graded AU58. In fact, during the same period, we have sold only one Mint State Mormon Territorial gold piece at auction--an 1849 quarter eagle grading MS62.
The current offering represents a remarkable opportunity for the connoisseur of Territorial gold coinage, or rare coins in general. This is an incredibly well-preserved example. The devices are sharply defined on each side, quite an unusual attribute for this type. The coin has a pronounced accent of reddish patina, undoubtedly from the higher alloy of copper. Listed on page 374 of the 2009 Guide Book. (NGC ID# 2BCF, PCGS# 10265)

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Auction Dates
February, 2009
4th-8th Wednesday-Sunday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 5
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
Page Views: 7,739

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