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    1851 Humbert Fifty Dollar Octagonal, MS61
    887 Thous., Reeded Edge, K-6

    1851 $50 RE Humbert Fifty Dollar, Reeded Edge, 887 Thous. MS61 NGC. K-6, R.4. The Kagin-5 and Kagin-6 varieties are the first of the Reeded Edge varieties, distinguished from one another by the fineness, 880 in the case of the K-5 and 887 in the case of the K-6. These two varieties mark the start of the many improvements in design and production that would characterize the Humbert-U.S. Assay Office slugs during their two or so years of coinage.

    The moving of the legend, AUGUSTUS HUMBERT UNITED STATES ASSAYER OF GOLD CALIFORNIA to the obverse periphery, of course, eliminated the need for the cumbersome and laborious process of hand-stamping the edges. However, the replacement of the legend with edge reeding served another purpose as well. Numerous malefactors were found to be shaving the edges off of the heavy gold pieces, a process that the edge-reeding discouraged.

    An unknown but large number of these fifty dollar gold pieces were originally produced. Almost 170 years later, however, they are decidedly scarce. As Bowers puts it in A California Gold Rush History, "What happened to them all [the fifty dollar ingots]? Edgar H. Adams noted that certain foreign bankers preferred octagonal ingots to regular American coins, thus leading to the export of huge quantities, some from San Francisco and others from New York City. As late as August 1857 such pieces were included in gold deposits sent to the East on the S.S. Sonora, connecting to the S.S. Central America."

    NGC and PCGS together have certified only 29 examples of this variety in Mint State, including resubmissions, with the present coin about in the midrange of Mint State survivors. Reddish highlights appear on the lustrous green-gold surfaces, and typical flatness is observed on some of the obverse highpoints. Minor rim imperfections and scattered small abrasions are noted on both sides, as one would expect from this large-size gold coin. Listed on page 402 of the 2021 Guide Book.
    Ex: ANA Signature (Heritage, 8/2007), lot 2112.

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

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

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2020
    3rd-9th Monday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 27
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 620

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