A collector coin that I have dreamed of developing since attending the San Francisco ANA Convention over two years ago is finally becoming a reality.
One of my favorite coins—and a coin that Q. David Bowers called “the signature coin of the California Gold Rush”—is the 1851 and 1852 Augustus Humbert $50 Gold Octagonal “Slug.” These impressive and hefty gold rarities define the California Gold Rush and were actually gold ingots according to Augustus Humbert’s notes. However, they have been called by many different names, the most common of which is a “slug.”
Their octagonal shape has made them some of most desirable “oddities” in the numismatic marketplace. They have earned a place in the famed book by Jeff Garrett, “The 100 Greatest United States Coins,” and without a doubt, they are the most asked-about single item from our catalog of SSCentral America artifacts. Unfortunately, there were only 13 original “slugs” recovered from the shipwreck site and those were in average quality of AU (about uncirculated) and they sold out immediately. Today the starting price for one of those 13 originals would be in the neighborhood of $75,000 or more.
It is widely believed by experts in Pioneer Gold that of the original “slugs” from 1851 and 1852, there are between 400-600 survivors in all conditions, with most exhibiting severe damage. Even those with extreme damage trade regularly at $15,000 or more. The finest-known slugs of each variety are valued at $500,000 or more, with the highest ever graded being MS65 Star by NGC. Obviously, these coins are of extreme historical importance and very popular with collectors and investors.
This popularity and high value is why I was so excited to be involved with a team that has created what I believe will be a numismatic classic. But more on that later…
The “SS Central America Octagonal Humbert $50 Gold Commemorative” has been created the old-fashioned way. Possibly the last surviving artist who still hand-engraves master coin dies is engraver Ron Landis. He was commissioned to engrave the dies for this beautiful new commemorative, and he used the finest-known original 1852 Humbert $50 as his model. Using only his eyes and his masterful hands, he engraved the master dies over a three month period working day and night, just like they would have done in 1852. Every process in the production of this coin had to be created by hand, a true work of art.
Even the refining of the gold had to be reworked using an age-old process. Every ounce of gold used to create these beautiful commemoratives was recovered from the shipwreck of the SS Central America. I re-acquired two large gold bricks which were sold to primary investors years ago. They were Kellogg & Humbert ingots #555 and #830, which confirms the fact that not only are these wonderful works of art created out of real California Gold Rush gold, but they are created using gold which was assayed by the company owned by Augustus Humbert himself. And, since Humbert was a master assayer, these two ingots quite possibly were assayed by his own hand.
There have been two previous commemoratives created by the gold recovered from the SS Central America shipwreck site. The first, a beautiful 2.5 ounce $50 Kellogg round coin, with a mintage of 5,000…and second, a beautiful half-ounce $10 “Horseman” with a mintage of 4,000—and the original release of both coins sold out years ago. Both coins have become highly collected and trade regularly in the marketplace.
The most exciting part of the “SS Central America $50 Octagonal Humbert Commemorative” is the extremely low and limited mintage. The amount of gold recovered from the two ingots allowed only 375 examples of this numismatic masterpiece to be recreated. The picture you see here is the first “slug” struck. These large and beautiful 2.5 ounce gold works of art are simply incredible when you consider that each feather, claw, shield and every detail was recreated by the hand of Ron Landis.
The “slugs” created by Augustus Humbert in 1852 are without a doubt a very popular and valuable item with high quality originals capturing hundreds of thousands of dollars each time one is presented to the marketplace. That is why these beautiful new commemoratives will capture the imagination of the numismatic community:
1. They are replicas of one of the most popular coins in all numismatics and listed in the book, “The 100 Greatest United States Coins”…and the coin which Q. David Bowers said, “is the signature coin of the California Gold Rush.”
2. They were created using the same techniques used by Augustus Humbert over 150 years ago…and are literally handmade works of art.
3. The gold used to create these new commemoratives was recovered from the shipwreck site of the SS Central America and was assayed by Augustus Humbert in 1857. Each coin contains 2.5 ounces of authentic California Gold Rush gold, assayed in the offices of Kellogg & Humbert at 104 Montgomery St. in San Francisco.
I believe these coins will become classics, just as the $50 Kelloggs and $10 Horsemen have, and they can now be purchased for a fraction of what an original would cost.
With only 375 coins being created, they will not last long. Don’t be left out…call your Monaco Rare Coins representative today at 888-900-9948.