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Attractive Circulated 1849 Mormon Half Eagle

1849 $5 Mormon Five Dollar XF 40 PCGS. K-2, R.5. In 1830, a young man by the name of Joseph Smith had a profound vision that formed the basis of a new branch of Christianity. After publishing The Book of Mormon, Smith and a number of converts left their native state of New York and headed west. By 1836, they had established their new faith in Kirtland, Ohio. Taking advantage of the expanding economy of the mid-1830s, the Mormons formed the Kirtland Safety Society Bank. As they lacked supporting specie, however, the Mormons were unable to obtain a charter and, in 1837, changed their practice to a "Stock Industrial Company" and renamed their concern the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company. With this shaky beginning, the Mormons proceeded to issue large quantities of banknotes. The Panic of '37, however, sent the Mormons' bills streaming back to Kirtland and, without suitable reserves of the specie and/or hard money, the enterprise folded in economic ruin. To escape the authorities, the entire congregation uprooted and moved to Quincy, Illinois. The troubles of the congregation, however, were far from over. Smith's 1843 announcement that his church would accept plural marriages outraged the citizens of Illinois and resulted in the lynching of both Smith and his brother Hyrum. In early 1846, Smith's successor as congregational leader, Brigham Young, led his people out of Illinois and, on July 24, 1847, into the Valley of the Great Salt Lake in what would become the state of Utah. The stage was set for the huge influence that the Mormon Church would exert on the history of the American frontier.
This is a lightly circulated representative of the Mormon's first half eagle issue. Although moderately abraded, the surfaces still display an attractive brown-gold appearance. The devices are quite well defined within the confines of this grade level. While we do not know for certain how many of these pieces were issued, Breen estimates the total to be in the neighborhood of 5,300 coins. Regardless of Breen's accuracy, there is little denying the rarity of this early Gold Rush era half eagle. Listed on page 289 of the 1999 Guide Book.
From the Eugene Peterson Collection. (NGC ID# 2BCE, PCGS# 10262)

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Auction Dates
August, 1999
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 4
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