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Vacation souvenir made of California gold

Coins from the California Gold Rush have captured the imaginations of numismatists for almost 170 years.

When flecks of gold were found in the American River at Sutter’s Mill and reported by John Marshall in 1848, the race to great wealth was on.

Some found it.

San Francisco became a boomtown.

Ships were abandoned in the harbor by crews that went to seek their own fortunes.

Others simply did their jobs at an historic time, leaving collectors of the future many fascinating items to collect.

One of these is an 1855 Wass Molitor & Company gold $50.

 What will be the winning bid for this XF-40 Wass, Molitor & Co. $50 gold piece when it goes on the block in April?

What will be the winning bid for this XF-40 Wass, Molitor & Co. $50 gold piece when it goes on the block in April?

It will be sold online by GreatCollections Coin Auctions on April 8.

Will it capture your imagination as it has mine?

It is graded XF-40 by the Professional Coin Grading Service.

It is one of about 100 of these privately produced gold coins to survive.

This particular coin did so by way of Sydney, Australia.

The gold $50 recently was rediscovered there, said Ian Russell, owner and founder of GreatCollections.

It crossed the Pacific Ocean to Australia in the hands of an affluent family. They acquired it in the early 1970s while vacationing in New Mexico.

That’s some souvenir to take home to Australia.

It beats any memento I have ever purchased.

It has been a fantastic investment.

Russell thinks the coin could bring over $50,000.

If it does, that is at least one more zero than the original purchaser probably paid.

Russell said, “It has been in their family ever since and was consigned to GreatCollections in raw form. GreatCollections arranged for the coin to be professionally graded by PCGS, and they assigned the grade as XF-40.

“Being from Sydney myself, I am excited to be able to auction this rarity through my firm. While rarities like this don’t turn up overseas very often, it does happen. This particular example is well-struck and exhibits some moderate rich orange toning around devices and lettering, owing to its original nature” Russell said.

Remember, $50 gold coins are huge. They are almost 2-1/2 times the size of a gold American Eagle.

This $50 is a one-year type coin and the largest produced by the Wass, Molitor & Company assay firm.

They are almost 2.5 ounces of gold.


You might not be able to tuck away this particular coin like the Australian family did, but you will find other coins in the sale that are within your hobby budget.

Go to the website and make your own new numismatic gold strike.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News Express. >> Subscribe today

More Collecting Resources

• The 1800s were a time of change for many, including in coin production. See how coin designs grew during the time period in the Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900 .

• Download The Metal Mania Seminar with David Harper to learn more about the metals market.