Popular Mormon Quarter Eagle, VF35Ironically, the first enterprise to produce private gold coins from California gold dust was not located in that area at all, but in the Territory of Deseret (later to be known as Utah). Not only were the first western private gold coins issued by the Deseret Assay Office under the auspices of the Mormon Church, but they preceded the private coinage in California by more than five months. In addition, unlike other private coining operations, the coins of the Deseret Assay Office were conceived, executed, and distributed by a religious community from dust deposited as part of their church's tithes.
On September 28, 1848, some of the members of the Mormon Battalion who had fought in the War against Mexico returned to the Salt Lake Valley by way of the California gold fields. Several arrived with considerable amounts of gold dust, which, as in California, was at first used in trade. As soon as the Church began receiving the dust, Brigham Young decided to fashion the metal into coins.
The first $10 gold pieces were struck in December 1848 before the crucibles broke. Coining resumed in September consisting of $2 1/2, $5, and $20 pieces. Additional $5 coins were issued in 1850 and once again in 1860 from Colorado gold dust. When it was revealed that most of these "native gold" coins contained as little as 80% of their purported value they were discredited, severely discounted, and melted. They are all quite popular today.
1849 $2 1/2 Mormon Quarter Eagle VF35 PCGS. K-1, High R.5. First year of issue for Mormon coinage, on the reverse is the abbreviation G.S.L.C.P.G. (Great Salt Lake City Pure Gold). This claim proved to be false shortly after minting when the coins were found to be far from the alleged "pure gold" promised on the reverse. Additionally, the coins assayed were underweight as well. As a result, Mormon gold was heavily melted within a few years after issuance, which accounts for their rarity today. Like the AU55 piece used as the Kagin plate coin (and sold by us in our 1993 ANA Sale), this piece shows slight waviness from having been struck from buckled dies (as all are). The left third of each side is weakly defined from the effects of the buckling with slight swelling noticed also over the upper right side miter's cap. Unevenly worn as a result in the buckled areas with strong definition on the "eye of Jehovah" on the obverse and the clasped hands on the reverse. A small reverse surface planchet flaw is noted to the left of the clasped hands. Orange-gold coloration overall with deeper accents around the margins and minimal handling marks on each side. Listed on page 301 of the 2002 Guide Book.
From The Estate of Jack L. Klausen. (NGC ID# 2BCD, PCGS# 10259)
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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