1855 $50 Wass Molitor Fifty Dollar MS63 NGC. K-9, R.5....
Bid InformationFor your convenience, the bid information on this page automatically refreshes with the most up to date data so you don't have to refresh/reload this page.
Minimum Next BidBid increments determine the lowest amount you may bid on a particular lot. Normally, bids must be at least one bidding increment over the Current Bid. However, podium, fax, phone and mail bidders submit bids at various times without knowing the current bid and must be on-increment or at a half increment (called a Cut Bid). Any podium, fax, phone, or mail bids that do not conform to a full or half increment will be rounded up or down to the nearest full or half increment.
Internet bids are required only to bid the increment past the Current Bid, or more. Internet bids greater than one increment over the Current Bid can be any whole dollar amount.
It is possible under several circumstances for winning bids to be between increments. It is also possible for an existing bid to be outbid by less than a full increment, sometimes by only $1. This usually happens when two bidders feel that a lot is worth about the same amount, but one places an off-increment bid. Generally when this happens, the Current Bid was much lower than the high secret maximum bid when the off-increment bidder placed his bid.
For example: On Tuesday, you bid $1500 against Bidder A's Maximum Bid of $1000, raising Current Bid to $1100. Then on Thursday, Bidder B, seeing a Current Bid of $1100, guesses the final price and decides to bid $1501, outbidding your Maximum Bid by $1. You would now have to bid $1600 through Heritage Internet bidding or $1550 on Heritage Live (if available for the auction) to possibly win that lot. Next time, maybe you'll bid $1502 and outbid Bidder B by $1!
Number of BiddersThis number represents the number of individual bidders prior to the close of Internet bidding on each lot. An individual who bids more than once is still counted only once. During the live session, only the winning bidder is included in this number, although detailed records are kept of all forms of bids.
Although many lots will not get reserves, this signifies that we have not yet posted any reserves to this entire auction. Reserves are usually posted approximately 3 days prior to the closing for Internet-only auctions, and approximately 7 days prior to the live session for Signature auctions. At that point, any unmet Reserve will become both the price shown (with an asterisk) and the Minimum Next Bid, regardless of any previous bids.
Although the consignor's agreement allows a reserve on this lot, the deadline for submitting such a reserve has elapsed. If consignor submits a reserve post-deadline and the item fails to meet that reserve, we may charge the consignor a higher reserve fee.
This lot is being sold without a consignor reserve. (Note: By law, consignors may still bid under certain conditions, but they are responsible for paying the full Buyer's Premium and Seller's Commission if they do.)
A reserve has been posted on this lot, but no bids have met the reserve. The current bid has been set to the reserve amount, and the next bid will meet the reserve.
Reserves have been posted for this auction, and there is a reserve on this lot that has already been met.
Lots bearing estimates and without Consignor Reserve shall open at Auctioneer's discretion (usually 25% to 60% of the low estimate).
What's This?The owner of this item has indicated that they would sell this item at the amount, although their acceptance of your offer is required before the item can be purchased.
BP - Buyer's Premium per LotA Buyer's Premium will be added to each successful bid. For this sale: 17.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot. Please see #2 in our Terms & Conditions.
Not SoldThis indicates an item that did not sell at auction because it did not receive bids equal to or greater than the reserve (minimum bid) amount set by the consignor, or the opening bid.
Opening Bid:Lots bearing estimates and without Consignor Reserve shall open at Auctioneer's discretion (usually 25% to 60% of the low estimate).
Extended Payment Plan
Available on select items as noted on the item page in the bidding area.
- Minimum invoice total is $2,500.
- Subject to a refundable 3% set-up fee, which will be paid as part of your 1st monthly installment. This fee will be refundable upon completion of the plan if the following conditions are satisfied:
- There is no penalty for paying off early.
- Non-dealers only
- With pre-approved credit application
- Get pre-approved by filling out a credit application.
- Bid normally and win some lots.
- When you get your electronic invoice, select "other" from the payment options.
Note: This offer may not be available on some items.
Terms and Conditions
Extended Payment Plan for Heritage Owned Inventory Items(excludes Virtual Bourse, Comic Market and Virtual Sports Show)
- Minimum invoice total is $2,000.
- Minimum down payment is 20%.
- There is no penalty for paying off early.
- Non-dealers only
SMS Alerts- Receive a text message approximately 35 lots ahead of your item being up for bidding at auction, with a link to bid in Heritage Live in the text message. Haven't registered? Visit MyProfile to sign-up for free by entering your mobile number. The green icon indicates Live Bidding Text Alerts are on for that lot. Live Bidding Text Alerts are only available for lots in live sessions.
Sought-After Round California Issue
Tied for Second-Finest Certified
Wass, Molitor & Co. replied on March 24 that they would begin issuing coins within the week. Ten dollar coins were struck first, followed by twenty and fifty dollar pieces shortly afterward. The Wass, Molitor fifty dollar pieces were round, unlike the familiar octagonal slugs issued by the United States Assay Office. They were eagerly accepted, as the firm had established a reputation for honesty that was fully justified by an assay conducted by Agoston Haraszthy at the San Francisco Mint. The subsidiary coinage of ten and twenty dollar coins was accepted without question as well.
The obverse design of the 1855 Wass, Molitor & Co. fifty dollar gold piece features a central bust of Liberty, with no inscription on the coronet, surrounded by 13 stars and the date below. The reverse displays the legends SAN FRANCISCO CALIFORNIA above and WASS, MOLITOR & CO. below. The denomination, expressed as 50/DOLLARS, is enclosed by a wreath, with a ribbon inscribed 900 THOUS. above. Although the design is not really beautiful, the coins were well-received by the public. An article in the April 30, 1855 edition of the Sacramento Daily Union summarized the popular feeling:
"This coin is circular, almost entirely destitute of ornament, and plain as a maiden's countenance who has breathed the air of fifty summers...the coin certainly has no pretentions to beauty; nevertheless we would not like to refuse a few to break with our friends."
What they lacked in aesthetic appeal the Wass, Molitor fifty dollar pieces made up for in stately size and instant recognition. An article in the San Francisco Herald of March 1, 1854 outlined the desirability of such a coin for trade purposes:
"In a country like our own, where the currency is purely metallic, it is of great importance to have coins issued of a size which will admit of rapid and easy counting, both in receiving and paying money; and the experience of all our businessmen goes to show that in the absence of bank notes the Fifty Dollar piece is the most convenient coin for such a purpose."
The coins circulated widely throughout the region and in other parts of the country. An article in the Alta California reported that Wass, Molitor was issuing $38,000 worth of twenty and fifty dollar gold coins per day at their peak. Some of the coins were even used in international transactions and found their way into European collections. One such piece was the example in lot 679 of the John G. Murdoch Collection (Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, 7/1903). This lot description followed four fifty dollar octagonal slugs in preceding lots:
"Another, 1855, ROUND, bust to left, with 1855 below, within a circle of stars; rev. 50 DOLLARS, within an olive wreath, with 900 THOUS. on a scroll above, WASS, MOLITOR & CO SAN FRANCISCO CALIFORNIA, edge grained, extremely fine and excessively rare. [Pl. VII]"
The lot was purchased by Samuel Hudson Chapman, for 84 pounds. Murdoch's collection also included the Mint State 1794 dollar that would later belong to George Earle and Harry Bass, which sold for 48 pounds to Spink, and the 1783 Nova Constellatio bit that is presently in the collection of the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society, which also sold to Chapman, for 26 pounds (Heritage Auctions will offer this coin and many fine Colonial pieces from the Eric P. Newman Collection in a monumental Signature auction in May 2014). The current price realized record for the Wass, Molitor & Co. fifty dollar gold piece is $345,000 brought by the finest-known MS65 example, ex: Garrett, in Stack's sale of October 2003. Wass, Molitor ceased coinage operations after the 1855 coinage was dispersed.
The present coin is a spectacular MS63 specimen, which is tied with one other coin for second-finest honors at NGC (MS64 is finest). PCGS apparently graded one coin in MS63 previously, but it no longer appears in the Population Report, and no other PCGS-graded example is better than AU58 (3/14). The lustrous orange-gold surfaces of this Select piece are remarkably clean for such a large gold coin, and both sides retain significant amounts of original mint luster. The design elements are well-detailed, with full star centers and just a trace of softness on the ribbon bow. Eye appeal is outstanding. A diligent search of auction records reveals no offering of an MS63-certified Wass, Molitor fifty dollar gold piece since the inception of third party grading in 1986. Territorial gold enthusiasts should bid accordingly. Listed on page 390 of the 2014 Guide Book. Census: 2 in 63, 1 finer (3/14).
From The Riverboat Collection. (PCGS# 10363)
Service and Handling Description: Coins & Currency (view shipping information)