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Lustrous 1855 Small Head Wass-Molitor $20 Gold Piece1855 $20 Wass Molitor Twenty Dollar, Small Head AU58 NGC. Kagin-7, R.6. Very few California gold issues were produced after the opening of the United States branch mint in San Francisco. In fact, only the Wass Molitor coins and the Kellogg gold pieces were produced in 1854 and/or 1855. Numismatic historian Donald Kagin described the third period of private California issues dating from 1852 to 1856. For a brief period from mid-December 1853 until April 1854, there was no government coinage operation in California, and a shortage of circulating coinage needed to be addressed. The Kellogg $20 gold coins, and the Wass Molitor $20 and $50 gold coins helped alleviate the shortage.
Kagin discussed these coinage issues: "There are several significant differences between this series of private gold coins and the previous ones. All private gold issuances during this series were the direct result of petitions from the community. This series of private coinage was also characterized by the minters' scrupulous avoidance of any debasement of their products. They also ceased their coining when the need that precipitated the petitions had been fulfilled."
In its first months of operation, from April until December 1854, the United States Mint at San Francisco only produced gold coins, primarily eagles and double eagles. Coinage consisted of 265,808 gold coins with a total face value of $4,069,575. This coinage situation was also addressed by Kagin: "Not only did the new United States Branch Mint fail to adequately serve the need of the community it was designed to serve, but its inefficiency made it necessary for private gold coins to supplement its output during at least the first two years of its operation.
This is the finest example of this issue that we have handled, and is easily among the finest in existence, although the NGC Census actually lists three finer submissions. We highly doubt that their are three finer examples of this issue. The surfaces are almost fully lustrous with bright greenish-gold coloration. A few minor abrasions are present on each side, as is always the case for these coins. A hidden scratch crosses the lower part of the eagle, just above the arrow feathers and below the shield point. Listed on page 358 of the 2006 Guide Book. Census: 1 in 58, 3 finer (11/05).
From The Great Western Collection of Territorial Gold, Part Two. (NGC ID# ANJS, PCGS# 10357)
View all of [The Great Western Collection of Territorial Gold, Part Two ]
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