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    Seldom-Seen AU50 1855 Wass Molitor Fifty

    1855 $50 Wass Molitor Fifty Dollar AU50 NGC. K-9, R.5. Unassayed gold dust or nuggets were a poor medium of exchange in Gold Rush California in 1849, as they varied widely in their gold content. While many firms contemplated producing coinage, some had their equipment (dies and machinery) stolen on the way to California; others managed to produce a few patterns or near-unique pieces only before fading into the mysterious, half-remembered haze of history, such as the Diana Gambling House and the 1849 Cincinnati Mining & Trading Co.
    The first firm to produce any significant quantity of circulating gold coins in California was Norris, Gregg & Norris in 1849, joined that same year by Moffat & Co., which produced assayed ingots and five and ten dollar gold pieces. Some of the issues of those early coiners, such as Baldwin & Co., Schultz & Co., and Dubosq & Co. were rightly or wrongly discredited through the March 1851 exposé of former-banker-turned-crusading-journalist James King of William, showing such pieces to range from a bit to several percentage points underweight compared to their nominal value. Today such pieces are extremely elusive, as most were either exported, melted down into the better-accepted issues of Augustus Humbert and the U.S. Assay Office, or else melted and recoined in "official" federal facilities, either in the early San Francisco Mint or another coinage facility.
    Counts Samuel Wass and Agoston Molitor were relative late-comers to the coinage business in California, producing five, ten, and twenty dollar gold pieces in 1852, and twenties and round fifties in 1855, those last after the San Francisco Mint had officially opened and struck its first federal (and federal-resembling) gold coins. Like Moffat & Co. before them, their gold issues were well-accepted, and both men had metallurgical and mining experience before coming to the United States.
    The present example, in AU50, is one that shows a few minor contact marks throughout that would be expected for 10 points of wear, but there are no overly distracting abrasions, and the piece possesses generous appeal. The attractive surfaces are bright yellow-gold, with some deeper reddish-gold around the devices. Interestingly, the reverse is rotated about 10 degrees counterclockwise from the obverse. Listed on page 371 of the 2009 Guide Book. Census: 1 in 50, 17 finer (6/08). (NGC ID# ANJU, PCGS# 10363)

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    Auction Dates
    Jul-Aug, 2008
    30th-3rd Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,149

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