1852 Humbert Fifty Dollar "Slug"
Post Lot Text
Die notes: Octagonal format. Obverse with central motif of eagle perched on a rock, holding a shield, and in its beak a long ribbon inscribed LIBERTY. Above, a label or cartouche on which the fineness, 887 THOUS:, is inscribed. Surrounding: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and below, FIFTY DOLLS. Outside of circle but inside rim is the inscription: AUGUSTUS HUMBERT UNITED STATES ASSAYER OF GOLD CALIFORNIA 1852. Reeded edge. Reverse with engine turning design. Die state: Perfect dies. PCGS Data: This is the single finest of three examples from the S.S. Central America treasure certified by PCGS.$50 Slugs in History William Perkins, a Forty Niner who kept a journal of his activities 1849-1852 and from it prepared a manuscript that he intended for publication, mentioned gold coins including the large octagonal "slugs." Two of his comments:"Adobes" in Monte Games To those who have never seen the great Spanish game of monte, I will explain the modus operandi. When the pack of cards is well shuffled, the dealer holds it with the faces down, and from underneath draws out two cards, which he places with the faces uppermost on the table. The bystanders make the election they please, placing their money on the card, or if the bet is a large one, calling the amount. When the bets are made, the dealer turns the pack up. If the first card shown corresponds with one already on the table, the dealer only loses half the stake, while he wins the whole amount bet on the other card.... The money was staked, and the gambling dealer turned up two cards; the young man chose one; all the bystanders suspended their play. Slowly, very slowly, the dealer turned over card after card. By the Lord Harry! I should not like to have been in that young fellow's shoes! If his first card is matched, he wins, if the other, he is ruined.... The miner has won! He eagerly takes up the stakes that the baffled gambler counts out to him in adobes (adobe is the vulgar but general name given to a rough octagonal shaped coin made in California, of the value of fifty dollars. It was made from the ordinary gold without refining or alloying it.), gives half to his comrade to carry, rushes out of the saloon, and an hour he is on board of the steamer....Down at the Polka Saloon The immense, richly furnished and dazzling gambling saloons form the great attraction, the lions of San Francisco. From a score of such palaces of iniquity, nightly issue strains of the most ravishing music, and the street is inundated with the light of hundreds of lamps. Let us pay a visit to the Polka Saloon, one of the largest and generally most crowded of the city. It is situated in Clay Street, a few steps from the Plaza. To the right on entering one of the numerous doors is a bar of liquors, with marble counter; gold and silver and rich crystal of every form combining to make it attractive, and as if something more was necessary to induce people to drink, two beautiful girls, elegantly dressed, are behind the counter to serve out the liquor.... Here is a monte table. Let us approach. It is crowded with eager betters. In the center is a bout a bushel of silver dollars, forming a bulwark around a peck of gold "adobes," eagles, and half eagles. Look at the Yankee dealer, and owner perhaps, of the pile of riches in front of him. See him as he slowly and deliberately draws card after card from the pack....