1855 Wass, Molitor & Co. Fifty Dollar
Classic California Showpiece
Exceptional AU Grade
Post Lot Text
Die notes: Obverse with head of Miss Liberty from a punch sized for the $20 denomination, thus imparting a beautiful cameo-like appearance when centered in the large expanse of field on the present $50. 13 stars surround. · The reverse bears around the border the inscription: SAN FRANCISCO CALIFORNIA WASS MOLITOR & Co. (lacking punctuation after CALIFORNIA AND WASS). At the center, an open wreath of laurel (or olive) enclosing 50 DOLLARS. At the apex is a cartouche inscribed 900 THOUS., significant as this is of the federal standard. (The pattern 1855 $50 Kellogg, never issued for circulation, is inscribed 887 THOUS., and may have been suppressed for this reason; it would have been viewed as less desirable than the Wass, Molitor & Co. product; a possibility first raised in our description of the Eliasberg Collection coin, 1996, Lot 366). Die state: Perfect dies. PCGS Data: This is the only Wass, Molitor & Co. $50 gold coin from the S.S. Central America treasure certified by PCGS. Previously, only three AU examples have been graded by PCGS, one each AU-50, 53, and 55.A Contemporary Account of the $50 The Sacramento Daily Union on April 30, 1855, noted: "Col. Pardee of Wells, Fargo & Co.'s Express has exhibited to us the new fifty dollar piece, which in a great measure is destined to supplant the old fashioned octagon slug now in circulation. This coin is circular, almost entirely destitute of ornament, and plain as a maiden's countenance who has breathed the air of fifty summers. At the outer edge of one side are the words 'Wass, Molitor & Co. San Francisco,' enclosing on the centre of the coin the figures '900' and abbreviated word 'Thous.' with the figures '50' underneath and the word 'Dollars' below the latter figures. On the reverse of the coin is a homely head of Liberty and the figures '1855.' The coin certainly has no pretensions to beauty; nevertheless we would not like to refuse a few to break with our friends." The Alta California reported on May 16, 1855 that: "Wass, Molitor & Co. have commenced issuing their fifty and twenty dollar pieces at the rate of $38,000 per day. The coin is above the United States standard and is confidently received throughout the state."