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Going for the gold Humbert

The highest graded Mint State Humbert gold coin is going on the auction block.
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The highest graded Mint State Humbert gold coin is going on the auction block.

Bowers and Merena Auctions will auction a rare 1851 Augustus Humbert $50 gold piece at its Beverly Hills Rarities Sale on Saturday, Sept. 13, at The Tower Beverly Hills, prior to the Long Beach Coin, Stamp & Collectible Expo.

The auction house estimates the market value of the coin at about $500,000.

Lot viewing for the entire auction is scheduled for Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 11-13.

The coin, cataloged as August Humbert. $50 Gold. Reeded Edge. K-5. Rarity-5. 880 THOUS. MS-65 * (NGC), boasts a combined PCGS and NGC Population (1851 $50 Reeded Edge, 880 THOUS variety only) of just 1; 0 finer.

“This coin is a new discovery that has never been available for sale to our knowledge,” said Steve Deeds, president of Bowers and Merena. “The rarity, the quality, the history – it all adds up to make this one spectacular coin of the caliber that even the most experienced numismatists only see a few times in a lifetime. This coin is one of the high points of the year at Bowers and Merena and we know it is going to a cause a big buzz for our September Beverly Hills Rarities Sale.”

Fewer than 100 August Humbert $50 gold coins of all varieties have been certified as Mint State by PCGS and NGC, and the actual number of individual coins is probably only 60-70 pieces considering resubmissions of the same example in attempts to secure a higher grade.

Most of those coins, while strictly Mint State in that their surfaces are free of wear, are confined to lower grades through MS-63.Distracting abrasions (some severe) bear much of the blame for this grade distribution, but subdued, lackluster surfaces are also seen quite frequently.

“Given the rustic conditions under which it was created, the strained economic conditions of Gold Rush California, and the various standards of numismatic conservation that have existed over the years, this Gem 1851 880 THOUS Humbert Fifty offered should not exist,” said Jeff Ambio, numimatic expert at Bowers and Merena.

The coin has already drawn the attention of the numismatic community.

“This was the most memorable coin I have graded all year, a true pleasure to see such an original coin with original luster,” said Mark Salzberg, NGC chairman. “It is definitely destined to be a centerpiece coin for the finest collection.”

The Sept. 13 auction also features more than 900 other coin lots. The complete auction and lot viewing schedule and catalog will be available on the Bowers and Merena Web site at, and interested bidders are also invited to request a printed catalog by calling 800-458-4646.