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1851 $50 LE Humbert Fifty Dollar, 887 Thous. 50 Rev. AU55 PCGS....

2009 October Signature US Coin Auction #1130

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Auction Ended On: Oct 23, 2009
Item Activity: 7 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Heritage Auctions
3500 Maple Avenue
Dallas, TX 75219

Preliminary Lot Viewing
The Saint Charles Convention Center
Booth 501
Saint Charles, MO 63303


1851 Humbert Octagonal Fifty Dollar
887 Thous., K-4, AU55
1851 $50 LE Humbert Fifty Dollar, 887 Thous. 50 Rev. AU55 PCGS. Lettered Edge, K-4, High R.5. While there are examples available of these historic octagonal "slugs" for a price, it is seldom that we have the privilege to offer so fine a specimen in problem-free Choice AU condition. PCGS has certified only five coins as such, with five examples finer--three in AU58, one each in MS61 and MS62 (6/09).
The 1851-52 octagonal fifty dollar gold pieces of Augustus Humbert and the U.S. Assay Office of Gold were known by various names, some obviously descriptive, some of unknown derivation. "Adobes," "quints [short for 'quintuple eagle']," "ingots," and "slugs" all served as monikers for these impressive gold coins during their heyday. Probably the most significant among those names is "ingot," for in their time they were considered exactly that--not so much a coin as a preassayed and -weighed quantity of gold at a given fineness and with a recognizable design. It is noteworthy that the dies of the first design (K-1) for the 1851 Lettered Edge Humbert fifty dollar had blanks beside the D and C for dollars and cents, as well as the fineness, so that those modular dies could be completed with varying finenesses and dollar-cent amounts as needed. The design is only one step removed from "ingots" in the usual sense of the word.
Although they were for a time virtually the only domestically produced gold coins in circulation in California, that very circulation sometimes proved problematic: When they were dropped, which they frequently were, their odd shape meant that they were apt to incur bumps or dings on their eight-cornered edges, which if severe enough could prevent their certification by NGC or PCGS. This AU55 example has no such corner bumps. The striking details are remarkably strong for this design type. The rich orange-gold surfaces show a faint trace of reddish patina around the devices. Listed on page 364 of the 2010 Guide Book. (PCGS# 10208)

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