Features of the 1851 $50 Augustus Humbert PCGS AU50:
Minted in the year 1851
Original mintage is unknown as no records exist today.
For the entire grade of AU50, PCGS has certified 8 coins with 29 coins finer.
Ranks as #68 in the 100 Greatest U.S. Coins.
Congress authorized a US Assay Office in California in late 1850. Lettered Edge $50 “slugs’ were struck initially between Feb 1 and Feb 15, 1851, but the 14-step process to make each one proved too cumbersome. The Lettered Edge was replaced by the Reeded Edge design (RE) shortly thereafter. They were made first by Augustus Humbert and then the U.S. Assay Office of Gold, in a fineness of 880, 887 and 900.
These massive $50 gold pieces were produced primarily to effect transport to the mint in Philadelphia, to be melted again into smaller gold denominations. The fact these Wild West artifacts even exist today is nothing sort of a miracle-!
Historical Note: When gold was discovered in California in 1848, settlers flooded into the territory within a very short period. The world had never experienced such an enormous mass-migration before to one area and as a result, many social and economic problems occurred. Since California was considered a territory and was not yet a part of the Union, the settlers elected a government and created a constitution by 1849. In 1850, California applied to Congress for statehood and was accepted six months later. By 1851, the annual output of gold in this region had risen to $55 million dollars. In anticipation of a huge influx of gold bullion, the government passed the Mint Act of March 3, 1849, authorizing the gold dollar and gold $20 Double Eagle denominations. Although a United States Assay office was established late in 1850, it couldn’t produce coinage until 1851. Up until that time, the California economy was flooded with raw gold dust and nuggets and very little currency. Since the government could not establish a mint within a reasonable period and transporting gold back to Philadelphia for minting was hazardous, entrepreneurs formed private companies to handle the overwhelming need to assay and mint gold coin denominations for daily commerce. On July 3, 1852, a bill mandating the establishment of a mint at San Francisco was made into law, however, operations didn’t begin until April 3, 1854, with the 1854-S Double Eagles being struck two weeks later.