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Gold variety identified

Given the identification number BG-529a, the $1 California gold piece was clearly struck with the BG-529 reverse die, but the obverse shows marked differences in placement of the Liberty Head and stars.

Given the identification number BG-529a, the $1 California gold piece was clearly struck with the BG-529 reverse die, but the obverse shows marked differences in placement of the Liberty Head and stars.

A privately minted $1 gold coin has been identified as a new variety of California fractional gold, thanks to the combined detective work of Numismatic Guaranty Corporation and Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

The newly identified coin is an octagonal 1854 $1 gold piece.

Kicking off the effort to identify the gold piece was the submission of it to NGC.

NGC said its graders attempted to attribute the 1854 dollar according to BG catalog numbers, but determined that it did not match any of the known varieties listed in the reference book.

They could see that the coin was clearly struck from the same reverse die as BG-529, which is identified by the two stars between GOLD and DERI.

However, the obverse was not the same as BG-529. Placement of both the Liberty Head and stars were much different.

California fractional gold pieces were struck by private mints in California during the Gold Rush. There was a lack of small change. The private coins were issued beginning in 1852 in 25-cent, 50- cent and $1 denominations.

NGC said it attributes California gold at no additional charge according to “BG” numbers. These letters are taken from the last names of Walter Breen (“B”) and Ronald J. Gillio, authors of the standard reference book for the series, “California Pioneer Fractional Gold.”

After NGC staff examined the gold piece at the firm’s Sarasota, Fla., office, it was taken in August to the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money show in Anaheim, Calif., so Gillio could see it. He is also Executive Director of Consignments/Numismatics Acquisitions Coordinator for Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

Gillio took a look at the gold piece as did John M. Pack, also Executive Director of Consignments for Stack’s Bowers, and numismatic researcher Robert D. Leonard Jr.

Their conclusion was the piece is a new variety, which they listed as BG-529a.

Finding new varieties of California fractional gold is something that occurs once every four or five years, according to the two firms.

NGC grades this significant new find AU-55 and encapsulated it with a label bearing its BG-529a attribution.

 

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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