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1852 Humbert Octagonal Fifty, AU58
Reeded Edge, 887 Thous., K-11

1852 $50 RE Humbert Fifty Dollar, 887 Thous. AU58 PCGS. K-11, R.5. Few coins are as iconic of the Old West than the fifty dollar "slug" issued by the United States Assay Office. Those heavy coins were the principal means of exchange in California during the life of the Assay Office, which extended from 1851 to 1853. The tenor of the Assay Office pieces was uncontested, unlike many of the private gold coins that preceded it. Coins from defunct firms such as Baldwin & Co. and Norris, Gregg & Norris were rejected in commerce, and melted for a profit by shrewd California bankers. Perhaps the Assay Office fifty dollar pieces were too successful, since it was difficult to secure small change until late in the 1850s. What silver coins existed, regardless of country of origin, tended to end up at the U.S. Customs Office, which declared gold dust to be unacceptable for payment of duties.

While the Assay Office slugs were common in commerce during the early 1850s, such pieces were roughly handled and often spent years in circulation. Once the Federal Mint opened in 1854, innumerable Assay Office slugs met their demise in Mint furnaces, in favor of more fungible U.S. gold coins. Despite large mintages for the 1852 Humbert fifty, few Uncirculated examples have survived. PCGS has certified no pieces as Mint State. While the present coin shows light wear on the rock and the eagle's shield, plenty of luster shimmers from protected regions, particularly on the reverse. The rims and fields have also largely escaped the bruises, scratches, and heavy abrasions typically seen on these historic coins. There are also no signs of tooling, an endemic problem for territorial gold. The winning bidder will have a true trophy coin, a cornerstone to an important collection of Western gold. Listed on page 381 of the 2014 Guide Book. Population: 2 in 58, 0 finer (6/13). (NGC ID# ANKE, PCGS# 10217)

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Auction Dates
August, 2013
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 9
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