One of the 100 Greatest U.S. Coins
The 1848 $2.50 Liberty with the reverse CAL. stamp is a very significant issue often referred to as a one-year Type coin, not to mention the fact that it is the first commemorative coin struck in the United States to memorialize the historic events of the California Gold Rush. This particular coin, as are all surviving examples, was produced from the first shipment of gold bullion to arrive at the Philadelphia Mint from the fields and streams of “El Dorado”. The shipment provided 230 ounces of the precious metal, a major portion of which was transformed into 1,389 regular-issue quarter eagles, each coin bearing the inscription “CAL.” above the eagle’s head on the reverse. Curiously, coins made from California gold by the Philadelphia mint can not be identified since they were melted and assayed, then placed into the economy at a frenetic rate. Aside from the gold recovered from shipwrecks with a distinct time-line, these 1848 $2.50 Liberty with CAL. coins are the only regular issue coins to be positively identified as being made out of California gold.
Numismatists, historians and scholars are enlightened by surviving documentary evidence leading up to the production of these coins. Secretary of War William Learned Marcy penned a letter regarding the first shipment of gold from California to Mint Director Robert Maskell Patterson on December 8, 1848:
“If the metal is found to be pure gold, as I doubt not that it will be, I request you to reserve enough of it for two medals ordered by Congress and not yet completed, and the remainder, with the exception of one or two small bars, I wish to have coined and sent with the bars to this department. As many may wish to procure specimens made with California gold, by exchanging other coin for it, I would suggest that it be made into quarter eagles with a distinguishing mark on each, if any variations from the ordinary issues from the Mint would be proper and could be conveniently made …”
Auction catalogs dating back as far as 1851 have described this issue as a “Proof” while modern day numismatists claim the coin to be “Prooflike” struck on freshly polished business strike dies. In most all catalog descriptions, the term excessively rare is used nearly all the time! Regardless of their status as proof or business-strike issues, however, the coins are among the most attractive examples of U.S. coinage ever issued, and collectors of many disciplines pursue this issue with avid determination. Experts have further estimated that fewer than 75 examples of this rare issue survive today in all grades, maintaining the demand on such a remarkable coin.
Of the few remaining examples, we note several have realized well-over $300,000 at public auction and at one point, an superlative example even realized $400,000+.
The present specimen is an impressive Mint State example, with reflective yellow-gold surfaces on the reverse and hints of light green on the obverse. There is definitely a contrast between the devices and the fields, but not enough to merit the classification of “cameo” – a term often reserved for Proof coin.
The NGC Census reports that four (4) coins have been certified as MS61 since 1987, with a mere 17 finer. The Collectors Universe published price is $90,000, while the Numismedia published price is $94,380.
This graph is for the MS60 example of the 1848 $2.50 CAL. Coins in the MS61 grade always trade for higher amounts, but this shows an impressive price history over the past decade.
We are excited to offer this exciting coin for only $89,750.