1852 Moffat & Co. $5
Post Lot Text
Die notes: Dies attributed to Kuner. Reverse aligned 160 degrees from the obverse. Obverse styled after the federal $10, but with Moffat & Co. on coronet. Date wide, with individually-entered digits farther apart than on the following; numerals irregularly aligned; 5 and 8 lean left. Reverse with eagle perched on rock, holding shield, inscriptionless ribbon in beak. Above on label or cartouche, 880 THOUS., reflecting the fineness. 264 GRS. CALIFORNIA GOLD TEN D. at border. Reeded edge. Die state: Slight filling of dentil spaces in some areas from about 2 o'clock to 6 o'clock. PCGS Data: Tied with one other for finest from the S.S. Central America treasure certified by PCGS.The Moffat $10 Coins of January 1852 As has been related, Moffat & Co.'s caper with James King of Wm. and newspaper journalism had wiped out all of its competitors in the spring of 1851. Throughout the rest of that year, Moffat had made only coins of the $50 denomination (a selection of which follows in the present catalogue), despite its request to the Treasury Department that it be allowed to produce smaller values. When merchants had to "break" or make change for the $50 pieces they often charged a 2 to 3 fee. While the $5 and $10 coins of Dubosq, Baldwin, and others were still seen now and then, they traded at a discount, federal coins remained few and far between. In January 1852, over 50 San Francisco merchants petitioned Moffat & Co., the city's only coiner, the "pet" of the Treasury Department, to issue $300,000 worth of coins of smaller denominations, $5 to $20, "to relieve the business community of its present embarrassment." In the meantime, Wass, Molitor & Co., a new entry on the coining scene had started satisfying the demand for smaller denominations. This threat to its monopoly pleased Moffat & Co. not at all, and the firm complained to the Treasury Department: "To these representations we have now to add that the state of things above described [the shortage of lower denomination gold] has been continually growing worse; that a private establishment (that of Wass, Molitor & Co.), without reputation or responsibility, commenced operations early last week; that its issues are at a premium of 2 to 3 percent over those of this office; that the business of this office has nearly ceased, and not having been for the last 30 days sufficient to pay its current expenses, a humiliating and lamentable position for a government establishment." As no authorization had been received from Washington, Moffat decided to proceed on its own account, issuing $10 pieces: "The coin of Moffat & Co. will be issued of course upon our own responsibility, independently with our connection with the United States Assay Office, and will be redeemed here in the issues of that institution, and in New York as our coin now is, and always has been by our agent, Messrs. Beebee & Co., in the regular coin of the Mint. "We propose to issue the first of this coin on Monday next, by which time we believe all our arrangements to be completed. With our sincere thanks to you, gentlemen, for the confidence which you are pleased to repose in us and in the coin which bears our stamp, we are, with high respect, your obedient servants, Moffat & Co." This was done, and shortly afterward thousands of 1852-dated $10 coins were released. These bore a Liberty Head on the obverse and on the reverse an eagle similar to that used on the familiar $50 coin. The Picayune of January 23 noted that the Moffat $10 had appeared in circulation the day before and that Moffat did not intend for the moment to issue any coin denominations less than $10. These $10 gold coins were produced to the extent of 8,650 pieces. Various independent actions taken by coiners were by necessity or practicality. In 1852 there was no telegraph link to the East, and communications to and from Washington, DC, via the fastest route (through Panama) took nearly two months to complete.