Near-Mint State 1850 Mormon Five Dollar, K-51850 $5 Mormon Five Dollar AU58 NGC. K-5, High R.5. At the same time that thousands of fortune-seekers, gold-diggers, dreamers, and hangers-on were headed toward the gold fields of California, Mormon pioneers--members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints--were headed to the state of Deseret (from the Book of Mormon for "honeybee), one that the Mormons had proposed but which was never adopted by the U.S. government. The proposed state comprised nearly all of present-day Utah and Nevada, along with big chunks of California and Arizona and portions of Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming , Idaho, and Oregon.
Since the area was largely inhospitable, sparsely populated, and unsuited for agriculture, it avoided numerous potential conflicts that could have otherwise arisen. Despite the proposal, as part of the Compromise of 1850, the Utah Territory was created--covering much of present-day Utah, a good part of Nevada, western Colorado, and southwestern Nebraska--by an act of Congress, and on Feb. 3, 1851, Brigham Young was appointed to be the first governor of the territory. Many Mormons for decades continued to cling to the idea of a state based on Mormonism, but that hope began to fade with the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 at Promontory Point, Utah. The railroad had the effect of bringing many non-Mormons into the territory.
Another way that the Mormons chose to assert their independence, as well as an economic necessity for the successful conduct of commerce, was to coin gold pieces. The 1849 gold coinage comprised two and a half, five, ten, and twenty dollar pieces, but only a single five dollar issue was produced in 1850, and it would be another 10 years before any more Mormon issues were forthcoming. The 1849 ten and twenty dollar pieces are excessively rare (the 1849 Mormon twenty is the first of the denomination coined in the United States), but the 1849 and 1850 five dollar pieces, while still considered about equally rare, are generally available for a price.
This example of the 1850 issue shows little actual wear, although the central clasped hands device is weakly struck, as usually seen. Contact marks are minor, limited to a rim nick at 8:30 and a few insignificant scrapes. Both sides are evenly covered with a layer of deep orange-red patina. Listed on page 374 of the 2009 Guide Book. (NGC ID# 2BCF, PCGS# 10265)
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