K-6 1860 Mormon Five Dollar
1860 $5 Mormon Five Dollar AU50 NGC. K-6, High R.5. The
Mormon half eagles of 1860 are dated a full decade after the last
previous issues in the series, the 1850 half eagles struck at the
Mint in Great Salt Lake City. The earlier issues had been overseen
by Brigham Young, spiritual leader of the Mormons and (from 1850 to
1858) governor of the Utah Territory. By 1860, however, conflict
between the residents of Utah Territory and the federal government
had ended with a non-Mormon governor, Alfred Cumming, in power.
The Clapp-Eliasberg Coin, AU50
For this reason, the 1860 issue has something of an "underground" character to it. The 1860 Mormon half eagles bear different designs from their predecessors, with a recumbent lion surrounded by HOLINESS TO THE LORD on the obverse and an eagle-and-beehive motif on the reverse. (The obverse motto is in the phonetic Deseret alphabet, which was promoted by Brigham Young but saw only limited adoption and fell out of use after Young's death.) The pieces were made in the "Deseret Assay Office," actually a jeweler's office, instead of an official mint, and when the (temporal) authorities learned of the half eagles' production, they quashed the project. Today, the 1860 Mormon half eagles are rare regardless of grade.
This is the Clapp-Eliasberg example of the 1860 Mormon five dollar, described as "VF-30" in the Eliasberg catalog; today's AU50 rating is more accurate, judging by the level of gold-orange luster remaining on each side. The cataloger wrote of the surfaces: "Light yellow gold. A few marks and scratches typical of the grade." This is more or less accurate, though with the possible exception of a flaw to the left of the lion's mouth, calling anything on this piece a "scratch" is overstating the problem. A rim nick at the bottom of the reverse is the most obvious pedigree marker. Listed on page 381 of the 2011 Guide Book.
Ex: B.H. Collins; J.M. Clapp; Clapp Estate; Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.; Eliasberg Collection (Bowers and Merena, 5/1996), lot 376. (NGC ID# 2BCG, PCGS# 10268)
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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