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1855 Wass Molitor Fifty Dollar MS60 PCGS, Kagin-9

1855 $50 Wass Molitor Fifty Dollar MS60 PCGS. K-9, R.5. According to Donald Kagin (1981), Hungarian expatriates Count Samuel Wass and Agoston Molitor had operated a well-respected private mint in 1852, coining five and ten-dollar gold pieces for local consumption. They ceased their operation with the impending opening of the San Francisco Mint, but resumed production of larger denomination gold coins during 1855, when the Mint was forced to close periodically for lack of proper acids to refine gold dust and copper alloy. The fifty dollar pieces proved eminently acceptable, even if not beautiful in appearance. Questions about the new coins' true value had arisen, and Wass requested that an assay be done by the San Francisco Mint, which concluded that they were of true value within the provisions of the then current coinage laws. The only round fifty dollar gold coins issued in California, they found acceptance in other areas of the United States as well. The Wass Molitor pieces had the highest intrinsic value of any of the private coiners in California. As a result, a small number were saved rather than being melted, as were the less reputable private minters' coins. A surviving population of seventy to eighty examples has been proposed, and seems like a reasonable estimate, based upon third-party grading service reports.
This coin has a commanding and impressive appearance. The small head of Liberty leaves much open field space on the obverse, even with the oversized stars at the periphery. The reverse is well designed, with a well executed wreath around the bottom, and the other design elements nicely positioned throughout that side. This piece displays deep green-gold color and there are several small abrasions on each side, a trait characteristic of virtually all large denomination territorial gold coins. The overall striking quality seems particularly impressive for the product of a small, private mint. The denticles and other devices are very sharply rendered. The fields show faintly prooflike tendencies, and just a few scattered hairlines that restrict the grade. Currently, the combined population reports of NGC and PCGS show that just nine examples of this scarce issue have been certified in Mint State grades, making this a rare opportunity for the territorial gold collector. Listed on page 358 of the 2007 Guide Book. PCGS Population: 1 in 60, 1 finer (10/06). (NGC ID# ANJU, PCGS# 10363)

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Auction Dates
January, 2007
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