U.S. Assay of Office Gold Coins | Pioneer Gold Coins by Type 
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Obverse of 1852 Humbert $20 Gold     Reverse of 1852 Humbert $20 Gold


Variety Equivalents:
Kagin 9, Breen 7710, KM 30

History of the United States Assay Office

While the government’s response to the need for an adequate coinage was slow and never satisfactory, two institutions were established (the State Assay Office of California and the United States Assay Office) that did provide an unconventional and partly successful attempt to supply a frontier area with an acceptable quantity of an "official" circulating medium.

The private coinage proscription was not enforced by the public or government because the State Assay Office failed to mint enough ingots for the local demand. Ironically, an institution that was designed to replace the need for private gold minting actually preserved it (i.e., Moffat & Co.'s undebased coins from the first period continued in circulation) and in fact stimulated its resurgence (i.e., the second period of private gold coinage).

The State Assay Office of California

The United States Assay Office under Moffat & Co. (1851-1852)

The United States Assay Office under Curtis, Perry & Ward (1852-1853)

--Reprinted with permission of the author from Donald H. Kagin's, "Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States", copyright 1981, Arco Publishing, Inc. of New York, pp 163-167.

Images courtesy of Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.

Significant examples:
PCGS Proof-65 (illustrated above).  Ex - Personal property of Augustus Humbert - Captain Andrew Zabriskie - Colonel James W. Ellsworth - John Work Garrett (acquired in March 1923) - Bowers & Ruddy Galleries' "The Garrett Collection Sales", Part 2, March 26-27, 1980, Lot 890, "407.6 grains" @ $325,000.00 - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles Sale, October 2000

Both Breen and Kagin indicate that 7,500 of these were struck on a single day between March 5 and April 2, 1852.  Most examples seen have a thin die crack connecting the bottoms of the obverse legends from the top of the first T in TWENTY to the bottom of the second A in AMERICA (this die crack even appears on the Proof Humbert-Garrett specimen illustrated above).  

Sources and/or recommended reading:
"Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States" by Donald H. Kagin

"Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins" by Walter Breen

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