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    1860 Mormon Gold Five, K-6, MS62
    Single Finest Graded at PCGS
    Seldom Seen in Mint State

    1860 $5 Mormon Five Dollar MS62 PCGS Secure. K-6, High R.5. This 1860 Mormon gold five dollar is the single finest graded example at PCGS, ahead of three submissions in MS61 (2/15). These four coins -- if indeed they are all separate examples -- represent the only Mint State 1860 Mormon fives at PCGS. The 1860 is the last year the Mormon five dollar denomination was minted; it bears a design markedly different from the two earlier Mormon five dollar issues -- those of 1849 and 1850 -- so that most Territorial gold collectors would consider it a separate subtype. This piece is numerically tied at PCGS with a single 1850 Mormon five, also in MS62; the finest 1849 Mormon five at PCGS is a single MS60.

    The foregoing should amply demonstrate how rare any Mormon gold piece is in Mint State. Beside the six pieces already mentioned above, only two other Mormon gold coins are certified in Mint State at PCGS -- both 1849 quarter eagles, one in MS61, one in MS63. No examples of either the ten dollar are known and only one Uncirculated 1849 twenty dollar (an MS61) is known at PCGS.

    After enduring persecutions, political conflicts, and the slaughters of church members in the 1830s and 1840s, the Mormon pioneers under the leadership of Brigham Young traveled westward beyond the then-borders of the United States, settling in the Salt Lake Valley of the (future) Utah Territory in July 1847 and founding Salt Lake City. The Mormon vanguard established a state they called Deseret, petitioning Congress in 1849 for statehood recognition. Congress instead enacted measures establishing the Utah Territory in 1850, naming Fillmore as its capital city rather than Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City replaced Fillmore as the territorial capital in 1858, and Utah joined the Union as the 45th state in 1896.

    The Mormon word "deseret" is interpreted as "honeybee," and the beehive symbol was a favorite emblem of the followers of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. According to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism (Macmillan, 1992):

    "Nineteenth-century leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints consciously created symbols to buttress their community. The most persistent of these pioneer symbols was the beehive.

    "Its origin may relate to the statement in the Book of Mormon that the Jaredites carried 'with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honeybee' (Ether 2:3). The Deseret News (Oct. 11, 1881) described the symbol of the beehive in this way: 'The hive and honey bees form our communal coat of arms. ... It is a significant representation of the industry, harmony, order and frugality of the people, and of the sweet results of their toil, union and intelligent cooperation.' "

    A decade intervened between the coinage of the 1849-50 Mormon gold pieces and the 1860 coins, which were produced due to the discovery of gold in Colorado, purer than the California gold used to strike the earlier pieces. On the reverse of the 1860 K-6 Mormon five dollar, the variety of the present coin, the beehive symbol is combined with an eagle. DESERET ASSAY OFFICE PURE GOLD encircles the rim, with the denomination 5.D. beneath the beehive. The obverse depicts a lion reclining on a grassy plane beside a river, with HOLINESS TO THE LORD written in the Mormon alphabet and the date 1860 below. (The Deseret alphabet was developed in the mid-19th century under the direction of Brigham Young, an attempt to improve upon the inconsistent orthography of the English language.)

    The Don Kagin reference reports a mintage of 472 pieces of the 1860 five dollar gold. Citing Mormon mining engineer and historian Col. Joseph M. Lock, Kagin writes:

    "For the Mormons the coins were a success. They served greatly to increase trade in and around the Valley and enabled them to purchase goods in the states to the east, even though the coins were accepted only at a discount of 10 to 25 percent. The Mormon coins circulated at par among the Mormons themselves but were not so popular with the 'Gentiles.' "

    The Guide Book writes that "Brigham Young was the instigator of the coinage system and personally supervised the mint, which was housed in a little adobe building in Salt Lake City." With so few pieces minted of this last Mormon gold issue and abundant evidence of circulation, it is a wonder that a coin such as the present MS62 PCGS-certified piece has managed to withstand the past 155 years. The yellow-gold surfaces show ample luster remaining with a few light ticks and marks that account for the grade, but there are no significant signs of contact. Note how well-struck the coin is overall, producing bold sharpness on the lion's mane, the grass and water below, and the small details of the individual eagle feathers and the beehive.

    This remarkable coin is sure to be a highlight of the present sale, one that should appeal to a wide spectrum of potential buyers, be they history buffs, Territorial gold specialists, or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Listed on page 398 of the 2015 Guide Book. (NGC ID# 2BCG, PCGS# 10268)

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

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2015
    22nd-26th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 18
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,654

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