1855 Wass, Molitor & Co.
    Ten Dollar Gold, AU55

    Rarely Encountered, Especially
    in High Grade

    1855 $10 Wass Molitor Ten Dollar AU55 NGC. K-6, High R.5. Wass, Molitor & Co. resumed coinage operations in 1855 after a two-year hiatus. This new coinage was occasioned by some temporary problems at the San Francisco Mint, which made it impossible for that facility to meet the need for gold coinage in the local economy. Local businessmen and bankers petitioned Wass, Molitor & Co. to issue private coinage to help fill the gap during a particularly acute shortage in March of 1855. The firm responded promptly, striking coins in ten, twenty, and fifty dollar denominations. The ten dollar coins were produced first, as they were struck from unused 1852-dated dies that were altered by drilling out the final digit of the date and replacing it with a 5. The coins contained full weight and value in gold and were readily accepted throughout the region.

    Thomas Elder gave a good description of the 1855 Wass, Molitor & Co. ten dollar piece when he cataloged the coin in lot 1407 of the Dr. George Alfred Lawrence Collection (Elder, 6/1929):

    "1855. $10. Crude large head of Liberty to left. Stars and date small. W.M. & CO. on coronet in large letters. Rx. Eagle holds branch and arrows. S.M.V. CALIFORNIA GOLD. TEN. D. Fine. V. rare. Plate. Adams 51-A."

    The lot realized $58 to an unknown buyer. Recent auction sales include the MS60 NGC coin in lot 64894 of the Sunday Internet Coin Auction (Heritage, 8/2008), which realized $37,375.

    The Wass, Molitor coinage circulated heavily at the time of issue, and most examples seen are heavily marked and moderately worn. The initial mintage was substantial, but most of the coins were turned in for recoinage when the San Francisco Mint resumed full-scale operations. The 1855 Wass-Molitor ten dollar gold piece is very scarce today, and high-grade examples are rare.

    This coin exhibits well-detailed design elements, with the softness on the devices seen on almost all examples of this issue. Only a trace of actual wear is evident, and the yellow and greenish-gold surfaces show the expected number of minor abrasions for the grade. An inscribed circle surrounds the second 5 in the date, indicating the original digit was drilled out and replaced. Except for a single AU58 specimen in 2012, it has been nearly six years since Heritage Auctions has offered an example of the 1855 Wass, Molitor & Co. ten dollar gold piece in AU55 or better condition. This coin should find a home in a fine collection of Territorial gold. Listed on page 389 of the 2014 Guide Book. Census: 4 in 55, 7 finer (3/14).
    From The Riverboat Collection. (NGC ID# ANJR, PCGS# 10354)

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

    View all of [The Riverboat Collection ]

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2014
    23rd-27th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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    The pre-sale publicity was more than I imagined, and the actual catalog better than I had expected - and my expectations were high!
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    Jim Beasley, Tilden Coin Company,
    Allamonte Springs, FL
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