Elusive 1855 Wass, Molitor, & Company Ten, XF45 PCGS

    Count Samuel C. Wass and Agoston P. Molitor founded an assay office in San Francisco in October 1851. Both were Hungarian patriots who were expelled from their country by the Austrians. Both had acquired considerable mining and assaying skills from the School of Mines of Germany. They immigrated to California in October 1850 and 1851 respectively. After considerable research they opened an assaying office in October 1851. By the end of the year they were asked by the local merchants to mint coins for circulation since all other private coiners had ceased operations and the U.S. Assay Office was only issuing $50 gold pieces. When the latter was authorized to issue smaller denominations in 1852, Wass Molitor ceased their coining production, only to resume operations in 1855 when the newly established branch mint temporarily closed. At their peak, the firm was striking more than $38,000 a day in twenty and fifty-dollar gold pieces. They finally closed down their coinage operation for good by the end of 1855. These coins had the highest intrinsic value of any of the private gold coiners with an average value of $5.04 per $5 gold piece. They are also among the poorest struck of all private gold coins.

    1855 $10 Wass Molitor Ten Dollar XF45 PCGS. K-6, High R.5. This is the so-called "Plugged 5" type as it is believed that the 2 was drilled out of the original die and a 5 substituted before the new 1855 pieces were struck. These coins were struck from dished dies, with the result that the definition is uneven and the reverse is a good 20 points weaker than the obverse. The central reverse on the present coin is certainly more softly detailed than Liberty's portrait, but the obverse periphery is bluntly impressed with only some of the stars evident. Lovely copper-gold color confirms the originality of the expectantly abraded features. We last offered an XF45 PCGS representative of the 1855 Wass Molitor Ten Dollar as lot 7901 in our January 2002 FUN Signature Sale. That coin realized $13,225. Since the appearance of the S.S. Central America coins, the rarity of these pieces have been downgraded from R.7 to High R.5 as there are more than 40 pieces known today. Listed on page 297 of the current Guide Book.
    From The Estate of Jack L. Klausen. (NGC ID# ANJR, PCGS# 10354)

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    Auction Dates
    September, 2002
    26th-28th Thursday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
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