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Historic 1855 Wass, Molitor Fifty Dollar, K-9
Last of This Largest-Issue Gold Rush Denomination

1855 $50 Wass Molitor Fifty Dollar AU50 NGC. K-9, R.5. In 1855 San Francisco, two firms, Kellogg & Humbert (usually just called Kellogg & Co.) and Wass, Molitor & Co., each produced 1855-dated fifty dollar gold coins. The pieces were manufactured in a round format, unlike the piquant octagonal fifties dated 1851-52 of Augustus Humbert and the U.S. Assay Office.
However, Kellogg & Co. issued their twenty dollar gold pieces dated 1855 in considerable quantity, based on die evidence and surviving specimens -- several different obverse and reverse dies are known, and they are relatively available for a Territorial gold issue. On the other hand, the Kellogg-Humbert fifty dollar round coins apparently never got past the pattern stage. Only a handful are known (11 per Kagin, 13-15 per the 2012 Guide Book), and all known examples appear to be in proof format, per both references.
The foregoing makes the Wass Molitor fifty dollar gold coins dated 1855 the last fifties produced during the California Gold Rush that are considered collectible. Their R.5 ranking implies that, for a Territorial gold coin issue at least (most of which have been melted long since, regardless of issue, including many melted shortly after their production for recoinage at the San Francisco Mint into federal-style gold), there is a moderate chance for collectors to occasionally snag a nice, high-grade piece such as the current coin. This is a particularly attractive, problem-free example of a Wass Molitor fifty. The surfaces are bright yellow-gold with a noticeable outline of reddish patina surrounding the devices on each side. Both sides have a number of small to medium-sized abrasions, but none are particularly large or distracting. Listed on page 377 of the 2012 Guide Book.
From The Virginia Beach Collection. (PCGS# 10363)

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Auction Dates
June, 2011
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