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1851 Humbert Fifty Dollar, XF45
880 THOUS. Scarce K-2 Variety

1851 $50 LE Humbert Fifty Dollar, Lettered Edge, 880 THOUS. XF45 PCGS. CAC. K-2, R.5. Europe seems an unlikely location to find a first-rate collection of California Territorial Gold, but the present European consignor assembled a memorable gathering of U.S. gold coins, including six fifty dollar slugs. It seems these huge gold coins circulated extensively in international commerce during the 19th century, and there is a rich history of European collectors preserving these distinctive historical relics of the famous Gold Rush. For example, Englishman John G. Murdoch shared the present consignor's enthusiasm for these coins and, when his collection was sold by Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge in 1903, it included five California fifty dollar gold pieces.
The present coin is an example of the scarce K-2 variety, minted in 1851, with the date and inscription AUGUSTUS HUMBERT UNITED STATES ASSAYER OF GOLD CALIFORNIA placed on the edge of this octagonal gold piece. The edge lettering greatly increased the difficulty of producing these coins, as the letters had to be punched into each side of the coin in a separate operation. The inscription was moved to the obverse, and a much more efficient reeded edge device was employed on varieties produced later in the year. The denomination was ingeniously expressed by the letters D and C on the dies, standing for dollars and cents. The value 50 was punched in front of D after the coin was struck, with the space in front of C left blank. Although this device could have been used to express a wide range of values while still using the same dies, only fifty dollar coins of this design were actually used in commerce. The fineness 880 THOUS. was indicated on a ribbon in the upper obverse field.
This attractive Choice XF specimen shows some flatness on the central devices, but much of the original detail has been preserved. The yellow and greenish-gold surfaces retain much original mint luster, and a scattering of minor abrasions is consistent with the grade. Housed in a green label holder. Listed on page 367 of the 2012 Guide Book. Population: 8 in 45, 30 finer (11/11).
From The Klamath Mountain Collection. (NGC ID# ANH3, PCGS# 10196)

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Auction Dates
January, 2012
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