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    Important 1851 Humbert Fifty, 887 Thous., K-7, R.7, AU58
    Possible Condition Census Coin

    1851 $50 RE Humbert Fifty Dollar, 887 Thous. AU58 NGC. K-7, R.7 (?). This is listed as the rarest of the Humbert fifty dollar issues, an R.7 in the Kagin standard reference, combining as it does the 887 THOUS obverse dated 1851 with a reverse used on the 1852 issues. Based on the available evidence, we believe this variety is perhaps somewhat less rare than R.7, but it remains very rare nonetheless. On the R.4 1851 887 THOUS with Reverse of 1851 (K-6), the outer ribbon on the reverse is quite near the edge at the center of each octagonal bar, and the concentric circles in the center are larger. On the Reverse of 1852, the concentric circles are smaller (or there is no "target reverse"), and the outer ribbon is well away from the rims, even at the center of each of the eight bars forming the sides of the octagon. On the obverse 887 is raised on the coin and therefore punched into the die, unlike the earliest 1851 issues that had the fineness--880 or 887--hand-stamped onto the actual coins, using three separate number punches. The U.S. Assay Office, although it encountered numerous obstacles, can be seen as one where increasing efficiency and productivity were the order of the day throughout 1851 and 1852. While the earliest 1851 issues were mostly produced by hand after the major devices were stamped on each side (basically coin-shaped bars of gold, for want of a better term), by later in the year the Assay Office had standardized the devices on each side into the dies, and showed itself capable of extended high-speed production. The newspaper Prices Current reported on September 30, 1851, that the Assay Office had sometimes attained a production rate of $100,000 in fifty dollar ingots per day--equal to 2,000 "slugs" daily. Despite the prodigious quantities produced, most of the coinage disappeared rapidly, exported overseas where it was melted into gold bars of standard weight and fineness.
    Auction appearances of this rare variety in high grade, as here, are few and far between, and the population data and auction prices realized are skewed because both the R.7 K-7 and the R.4 K-6 varieties are lumped generically together under one PCGS number (10214) as "1851 $50 Reeded Edge Humbert 887 Thous." However, the publication The Official Red Book of Auction Records 2001-2005 (Dannreuther and Garrett, 2005) shows only 10 appearances of attributed K-7s at auction from 1990-2005, without a single Mint State piece among them. The K-7 pieces showing in that listing average XF40 or so, with the highest-graded example an AU58, the grade of the present specimen.
    Despite some of the expected softness near the rims, the marginal legends are for the most part clear to bold. The central strike also shows some typical softness, but much luster remains on each side, and there are no significant abrasions to report, surprisingly so for a coin of this era and rarity. An important offering of this very rare Humbert fifty, one possibly in the Condition Census for the variety. Listed on page 353 of the 2008 Guide Book.
    From The Pacific Rim Collection.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 6J5M, PCGS# 10214)

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

    View all of [The Pacific Rim Collection ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2007
    8th-10th Wednesday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 12
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,281

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