Description

    Richly Patinated 1850 Mormon Five, AU58

    1850 $5 Mormon Five Dollar AU58 NGC. The Mormons benefited from the California Gold Rush in two ways, both as a supplier and outfitter for prospectors and from gold found in the American River region of California and brought back to Utah. One of the most colorful Mormons was a renegade who left early for California named Sam Brannan. In a December 20, 2004 Coin World article, Eric von Klinger related the following story of this Mormon pioneer:
    "He reportedly emptied stores over a wide area of picks, shovels and any other kind of implement that would be useful to incoming prospectors, then sold them at high markup in his store near Sutter's Mill. He claimed spiritual leadership when other Mormons arrived and even began collecting tithes, especially among a larger group who worked "Mormon Island," a sandbar in the American River. When [Brigham] Young demanded that this money be turned over to the church, Brannan is said to have replied, "I'll give up the Lord's money when he sends me a receipt signed by the Lord, and no sooner."
    Early gold deposits in the Utah community were sparse. However, in the first half of 1849 close to $8,000 in dust and a few coins were deposited. Another, later depositor known as "Father" Rhoads, brought several sacks of gold to Utah, including one that weighed 60 pounds. This influx of California gold created the same need in Utah for uniform, reliable coinage as it had in the Golden State. The problem was, though, Mormon coinage was not uniform or reliable. This is seldom written about today, but it is abundantly evident when one looks at a copy of Gold and Silver Coins by Eckfeldt and DuBois. Their 1851 edition valued the Mormon fives at $4.25. Quite a hefty seignorage on a five dollar coin.
    The conclusion one must come to is that early Mormon coinage must have been heavily alloyed with copper or silver (or both). Examination of this coin gives ample evidence that was the case. The surfaces have a deep reddish patina that is intermixed with lime-green. The design elements show the sharper modified design that started in 1850, and there are no noticeable abrasions on either side of this high-grade and important Territorial gold piece. Listed on page 365 of the 2008 Guide Book. (NGC ID# 2BCF, PCGS# 10265)


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