1853 California Gold Rush Circulating Fractional Gold 50C, BG-302 Liberty Octagonal, Peacock Reverse PCGS MS63 R4-


1853 Gold 50C Liberty Head Octagonal, initials FD on obverse. Low Rarity-4.

  • Period One - circulating issues between 1852 and 1856.
  • Redbook Type: Large Liberty Head / Peacock With Rays 50 CENTS, 1853.
  • Made by Frontier-Deviercy.

Design Note: This reverse imagery has been erroneously described as a peacock, but with all of the San Francisco fires it could have been a Phoenix. After all, San Francisco adopted a Phoenix on its government seal. See Brasher Bulletin, Vol.9, #2, pp.7-10, by Jack Totheroh.

Obverse: Same Liberty head as BG-301. 13 stars, tip of bust points to 1st star, tip of coronet points to 7th star; “FD” to right of nape of neck; 1853 below bust.

Reverse: Eagle clasping an arrow; rays above and in back of head; CALIFORNIA GOLD. above and 50 CENTS. below.

On die state 2 there is an obverse cud break at the 12th star. On die state 3 the break obliterates the star.

Historical Note: Three (or more?) examples were recovered by scuba divers from the S.S. Winfield Scott shipwreck. The S.S. Winfield Scott was operated by the Pacific Mail Steamship Company to carry passengers and cargo between San Francisco and Panama.  On December 1, 1853, she left San Francisco bound for Panama with about 400 passengers and $884,861.50 in treasure.  Two days out she was caught in a storm and ran aground 30 miles west of Santa Barbara.  The passengers and most of the treasure were rescued.  What remained were mainly items of small value abandoned by the passengers in their haste to evacuate the sinking ship.

More Information
PCGS # 10422
BG Number 302
Grading Service PCGS
Grade MS63
Denomination Type California Fractional Gold
Numeric Denomination Gold 50C
Mint Location Private Issue
Designation NONE
Circ/UnCirc Uncirculated
Strike Type Business
Holder Variety BG-302 "Peacock"
Grade Add On NONE
Holder Type N/A

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