1851 Augustus Humbert Slug, K-5, MS61
1851 $50 RE Humbert Fifty Dollar, Reeded Edge, 880 Thous. MS61
NGC. K-5, Low R.5. The central obverse device is an eagle,
wings outstretched, with a shield and ribbon in its beak. A scroll
above the eagle states the 880 THOUS fineness of the gold. The
legend, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and denomination, FIFTY DOLLS,
are contained within an inner circle, with identification of the
maker, AUGUSTUS HUMBERT UNITED STATES ASSAYER OF GOLD CALIFORNIA,
and the date, 1851, in the outer margin. The reverse is the usual
engine turned design.
880 THOUS Fineness
The Assay Office, located in San Francisco, operated as a provisional U.S. Mint in California prior to the official San Francisco Mint that opened in 1854. Trained as a watchmaker, Augustus Humbert received Congressional approval as the government assayer, arriving in San Francisco early in 1851. He returned to his New York home in 1860 where he lived another 13 years.
The inscription tells us that this slug is 88% gold with 12% alloy. Perhaps as much as half of the alloy is silver, imparting the distinct green-gold appearance to this impressive Humbert slug. Both sides show the usual minor surface marks and rim bumps that typify survivors, although to a smaller degree on this specimen that on most others. The Humbert and U.S. Assay Office slugs were official government coinage issues, unlike other private California gold issues, and they should be collected as part of the federal gold series. Listed on page 368 of the 2012 Guide Book. (NGC ID# ANH8, PCGS# 10211)
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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