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    Description

    AU Sharpness 1851 Humbert Fifty, 887 Thous., K-6, R.4

    1851 $50 RE Humbert Fifty Dollar, 887 Thous.--Improperly Cleaned--NCS. AU Details. K-6, R.4. By later in 1851 U.S. Assayer Augustus Humbert, a former New York watchmaker, had moved from the cumbersome hand-lettered edges of the octagonal "slugs," "quintuple eagles," or "ingots" of the year's first coinage to a reeded edge, a precaution against clipping as well as a considerable efficiency improvement. (The first 1851 slugs also had blanks for hand-punching the fineness and the amount of dollars and cents--apparently a useless precaution as protection against the unexpected; all known examples are fifty dollars and no cents.) The government in Washington must have seemed awfully far away, however, as the officials in the East appeared less than sympathetic to the shortage of small coins in California during the early days of the Gold Rush, as well as the difficulty of producing .900 fine gold coins--the federal standard. A recurring lack of parting acids made the production of such coins difficult, and sometimes impossible. The Humbert and Assay Office coins of 1851 and 1852 were produced in varying finenesses including .880, .884, and .887 fine. All of those coins were invalidated with an astonishing stroke of the pen of Assistant Treasury Secretary William Hodge, who wrote to customs collector King that only .900 fine coins could be accepted for payment of customs duties.
    This K-6 variant shows the outer ribbon at the extreme edge of the so-called "target" reverse. The piece is erroneously described on the NCS insert as an 1852 Reeded Edge. The coin shows the brightness one expects from a lightly cleaned coin, but there are fewer abrasions present than usually seen on these high-denomination "slugs." A faint trace of reddish patina can be made out around the devices. Listed on page 362 of the 2009 Guide Book.
    From the Fern E. Wagner Trust.


    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 6J5M, PCGS# 10214)


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

    View all of [The Fern E. Wagner Trust ]

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    June, 2008
    26th-29th Thursday-Sunday
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