MORMON $5 1850
Elusive 1850 Mormon Five Dollar, XF 40 PCGS1850 $5 Mormon Five Dollar XF 40 PCGS. K-5, High R.5. Under the capable leadership of Brigham Young, the fledgling Mormon community in Deseret Territory (as Utah was then called) grew rapidly in the years immediately following their arrival in 1847. Despite their growth in number, however, the Mormons continued to suffer from a shortage of circulating currency. This situation prompted Captain James Brown, a veteran of the Mormon Battalion that fought in the Mexican War, to return to California from Deseret during the summer of 1847. Once there, Brown contacted a new Mormon community at New Hope that was comprised of several men from his former volunteer outfit who had remained in California, as well as a newly arrived group from New York led by Sam Brannan. At Young's request, Brown ordered the New Hope community to remain in California throughout the winter of 1847-1848 and earn as much money as possible before striking out for Deseret in the spring. In fulfillment of these wishes, several of the men, including an engineer by the name of James Marshall, contracted with John Sutter to build the latter a sawmill for his fort along the American River. It was at this fateful site that Marshall, on January 24, 1848, discovered the gold that would forever alter United States coinage history.
As Mormon miners began to transport their precious finds back to Deseret Territory, Young decided to establish a private mint to begin local coinage. With his usual flare for organization, Young pushed the idea with enough energy that the Mormons actually preceded California's own territorial issues by five months. The first issues, dated 1849, were not, however, kindly received outside of Deseret. Largely underweight, many of these coins perished in the melting pots of assayers. In an effort to remedy this problem, Young ordered that his minters alloy the 1850 half eagles with silver, but this effort also failed. Countless examples of this limited delivery also suffered heavy melting, with the result that the few extant pieces are of the utmost rarity today.
This is a pleasing, circulated representation of this difficult Mormon half eagle. Despite obvious wear throughout, the devices are quite well detailed as far as this issue is concerned. The even copper-gold surfaces are also surprisingly problem-free for a coin that saw twenty points of circulation. For accuracy alone, we note a tiny indentation in the obverse field below the D in LORD. A far scarcer issue than its 1849 counterpart, this half eagle is sure to elicit strong bids from territorial gold collectors. Listed on page 289 of the current Guide Book.
From the Eugene Peterson Collection. (PCGS# 10265)
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