California Fractional Gold Coins
California Fractional Gold Coins are rare gold coins minted privately during the Gold Rush of the 19th century.
Brief history and description
California fractional gold coins were produced between 1852 and 1876, although the origins of the coins actually dates back to 1848 during the California Gold Rush when they were used as a method of commerce for California pioneers. During this time, the coins were used as currency among Westerners given the fact that using raw gold as money was impossible, and Westerners didn't typically trust paper money at the time.
California fractional gold coins are usually smaller than a fingernail, and experts predict that there are less than 30,000 California Fractional gold coins that still exist today.
Notable auction sales
California fractional gold coins
Goldberg Auctions in Los Angeles, California sold an 1854 round quarter dollar defiant eagle California fractional gold coin for $59,800 in 2003.
Holabird-Kagin Americana in Reno, Nevada sold:
- Three California Fractional gold coins, 32 small pacer nuggets, an 1849 USA gold dollar, an 1865 Liberty head round dollar coin and an 1863 liberty head round dollar coin (with a total weight of 17 grams) for $1,650 in November of 2011.
- Two California fractional gold coins (including one 1880 round Indian dollar coin and an 1880 octagonal Indian dollar coin) which were both attached to a 16mm fine gold chain for $550 in November of 2011.
Liberty head octagonal quarter dollar coins
Early American History Auctions in Rancho Sante Fe, California sold an 1868 California Fractional gold liberty head octagonal quarter dollar coin with a "rich, sanity golden-olive appearance" and "overall natural mint luster" for $650 in May of 2009.
Liberty head round half dollar coins
Early American History Auctions in Rancho Sante Fe, California sold an 1871 California Fractional gold liberty head round half dollar coin with an original "frosty gold" appearance and "overall eye appeal" for $600 in May of 2009.
Indian octagonal one dollar coins
Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas sold an 1875 Indian octagonal one dollar coin (from one of the last octagonal dollars listed in the California fractional gold series) with a "luminous honey-gold surface" for $550 in May of 2008.
Indian round octagonal 50 cents coins
Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas sold an 1875 Breen-Gillio Indian octagonal 50 cents California Fractional gold coin with a "crisply struck green-gold" appearance for $1,100 in September of 2008.
Liberty octagonal one dollar coins
Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas sold an 1854 California fractional liberty octagonal one dollar coin with a "dusky orange-gold surface," two small stars on the reverse side of the coin, and the Liberty head surrounded by ten small stars for $1,100 in June of 2008.
Liberty round 25 cents coins
Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas sold an 1855 California fractional liberty round 25 cents coin with the coronet showing all eight beads and a brownish-tinge for $600 in June of 2008.
Indian round 50 cents coins
Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas sold an 1875 Indian round 50 cents California gold coin for $1,300 in October of 2008.
Guide for collectors
Only five examples of Breen-Gillio's 1875 Indian octagonal 50 cent coins are known to exist, thus are considered to be extremely rare.
The 1854 round defiant eagle quarter coin is considered to be the most valuable and rare, as one sold at an auction for a whopping $48,000 in 2003.
The Octagonal dollar coins are considered to be the most desirable as well as the most rare out of all the California fractional gold issues.
Restoration of a California Fractional gold coins is not recommended.
For more information regarding California Fraction gold coins, visit Mike Locke's California Gold website or Rare Coins.