1850 Mormon Five, K-5, AU55
    Second-Year Issue From the Territory of Deseret

    1850 $5 Mormon Five Dollar AU55 PCGS. K-5, High R.5. Interestingly, the first private enterprise to strike coins from California gold was not located in that state, but rather in the Territory of Deseret (present-day Utah). Don Kagin (1981) writes that by November 1848, "streams of Mormon miners returning from California began trickling into the [Salt Lake] Valley and generating more excitement. ... Some of them brought considerable amounts of gold dust with them." When a portion of the gold dust was paid in tithes to the Mormon Church, Brigham Young quickly realized the need to strike coins of uniform weight and fineness.
    On November 25 a design was chosen; on the obverse was a three-pointed Phrygian cap over the all-seeing eye of Jehovah, and on the reverse were two clasped hands that symbolized friendship. The first recorded deposits were made on December 10, 1848, and two days later 25 ten dollar pieces--dated 1849--were minted. Although quarter eagles, half eagles, eagles, and double eagles were struck dated 1849, only half eagles were issued with the 1850 date. By that time, however, many people had noticed that the Mormon coins had a lower fineness and were lighter than federally issued coins, and soon Mormon gold traded at a 10%-25% discount. The mint was shuttered and its equipment sold at auction on August 12, 1850, although Kagin believes that the press may have been used through the end of 1851.
    Mint State Mormon gold coins are virtually impossible to find, and this Choice AU piece ranks among the finest certified. While not as rare as the elusive quarter eagles, eagles, and double eagles, the 1850 five is scarcer than its 1849 counterpart. This example boasts delightful light-orange gold patina. Scattered abrasions on each side are consistent the grade. Careful inspection locates only a few marks that may be worthy of note: one between LI in HOLINESS, another below the R in LORD, and a small mark above the right (facing) cuff on the reverse. Subtle traces of luster enhance this delightful specimen. PCGS has certified only two examples finer (6/10). Listed on page 380 of the 2011 Guide Book. (NGC ID# 2BCF, PCGS# 10265)

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

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    August, 2010
    11th-15th Wednesday-Sunday
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