|HUMBERT $50 RE 1852 887
|Service Catalog #
1852 $50 RE Humbert Fifty Dollar, Reeded Edge, 887 Thous., K-11, R.5, XF45 NGC. As early as 1849, Californians were dissatisfied with the State Assay Office and lobbied for a federal branch mint to meet the needs of the state's burgeoning population and Gold Rush-economy. In Philadelphia and New York, politicians argued over which states were more deserving of a new mint. The creation of the United States Assay Office of Gold in California was a compromise that won Congressional approval. Augustus Humbert, a German immigrant who became a successful New York watch case manufacturer, was named United States Assayer. Simultaneously, the California private minter Moffat & Company petitioned for, and received, the contract for coining the new issues on behalf of the U.S. Assay Office of Gold. Federal contract in hand, Moffat & Company ceased their own private mintage operations and assumed management of the U.S. Assay Office, supervised by Augustus Humbert. Humbert arrived in California in January 1851 with dies to mint fifty-dollar octagonal "ingots." Production began in mid-February of that year. While Californians had a love/hate relationship with the cumbersome octagonal slugs, they were acceptable for customs duties and indispensable for local commerce as a result. Inferior private gold issues were melted and disappeared from circulation. Since parting acids and copper alloy were virtually nonexistent in California, the prescribed fineness of gold called for by the Mint Act of 1837 (900 parts gold per thousand fine) was impractical, if not impossible, to achieve. The U.S. Assay Office compensated by increasing the weight of gold in its issues. This Choice XF 1852 octagonal fifty was struck before the August 31, 1852, Congressional order that no coins of less than .900 fineness were acceptable for payment of customs duties. It is smoothly worn and exceptionally free of the heavy marks or rim problems that normally accompany these big, heavy coins. Listed on page 396 of the 2018 Guide Book. Ex: Eric P. Newman; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.
Heritage Newman IX, November 2017, lot 15112, realized $55200. Images and description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.
|Eric P. Newman Collection, Part IX