1855 WASS, MOLITOR & CO.
The head on the obverse of this coin looks nearly identical in size
and style to that on the 1855
Wass, Molitor & Co. Ten Dollars.
Images courtesy of Early
American History Auctions, Inc.
Small Head (illustrated above)
PCGS EF-45. Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles "The
Fairchild Family Trust Collection" Sale, May 28-30, 2001, Lot 1135,
where it was described as follows: "1855 Wass, Molitor & Co. (San
Francisco) $20 Gold. Small head, Kagin-7, High rarity-5. PCGS graded
EF-45. This one has excellent definition in the head of Liberty,
while the reverse is a touch weak as always seen on the eagle's
wings and neck. Nice rims and fields, which show only moderate
handling marks. Remember, these were just "money" back
when there wasn't much money around, and all coins in the Gold Rush
areas circulated hard. The soft gold surfaces were prone to handling
marks, and all examples have them to some degree. Luster survives in
the protected areas, and this is one of the best to survive. The
recent PCGS Population Report notes only 3 graded this high, with
just 2 graded higher of the type! Only 11 have been graded in all,
so don't expect a boatload to be available at the next auction."
"Extremely Fine, harshly cleaned (illustrated above). Ex - Early American History
Auctions, Inc.'s Mail Bid Sale, June 9, 2001, Lot 1478, where it
was described as follows: "1855 Wass, Molitor & Company $20
Gold, Small Head, Extremely Fine, harshly cleaned. A
nicely detailed example of this very rare coin, but both sides have
been scrubbed, the obverse rather harshly, the reverse less so. Both
sides show normal circulation marks, but nothing heavy or
distracting. Breen mentions that the Small Head used on this coin
may be the same device punch from the 1855 $10. Fortunately, we have
both types here so that we can make a side-by-side comparison and
here's what we've learned: 1) the heads are nearly identical in
shape and size, suggesting that the identical device punch was used
on both coins. 2) the placement of the hair beads is different on
both pieces, indicating that they were punched in by hand in both
cases. 3) the top border of the coronet on the $20 piece is made up
of beads; on the $10 it is a curved line. This may confirm that the
beads were added by hand. 4) Some of the fine details may have been
finished by hand, as there are slight differences between both dies.
5) The eagle on the reverse appears to have been made from the same
device punch, also finished by hand on both dies. Garrett's EF
brought $16,000 roughly 20 years ago, so with inflation and a strong
market, this one should be worth..."
Sources and/or recommended
"Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia Of U.S. And Colonial
Coins" by Walter Breen
"Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States" by
Donald H. Kagin