BG- 435, 1853 California Gold Rush Circulating Fractional Gold 50C, Round 'Arms of California' NGC MS63 R5-


If you would like to acquire one of the most famous and desired varieties of circulating California Fractional Gold, then this may be the piece for you. Yes, there is definitely comfort in the familiar, the tried and true. However, numismatists also enjoy pursuing specimens that are different, that offer a totally new look. Such is the case with this "Arms of California" variety; it makes one sit up and take notice. While not as rare as some other issues, there is consistently strong demand for BG-435 due to its being the California Fractional Gold coin to utilize two uncommon design elements. This distinctive piece has attractive reddish-gold toning on both sides. NGC has graded 3 in MS63, with 4 finer. Overall, PCGS has graded 53 of this issue and NGC has graded 11 of them. This is a circulating issue from Period One: 1852-1856. CCJ 10;  EML 21; Burnie 32; Lee 10A; D 300.


California gold miners with long tom during the Gold Rush, circa 1850–1852. This piece was struck with gold from the California Gold Rush.

The obverse offers the "Arms of California": a seated Columbia (dressed as Minerva) holding shield and spear, with a grizzly bear eating grapes at her feet, with mountains and river in the background. That motif is within a circle, around which are 13 stars with '1853' centered below. The design is a bit simplistic, with the 'grizzly bear' appearing more like a Chihuahua. The reverse presents a miniature version of the Humbert eagle design from the octagonal $50 gold ingots issued by the U.S. Assay Office in San Francisco. The motif includes an eagle, banner, and shield. That design is surrounded by "CALIFORNIA GOLD -- HALF DOLLAR." Again, this design is also crude, for it looks like the eagle is dancing. We don't know who crafted this famous issue, but Breen and Gillio suggest Braverman & Levy. However, Totheroh suggest it may be Joseph Brothers. If you want one of the most unusual varieties of the California Fractional Gold series, then this fascinating piece may be just what you are looking for.





BG-435, 1853 G50C Liberty Head Round, R5-

  • 1853 Gold 50C Liberty Head Round, Low Rarity-5.
  • Period One - circulating issues between 1852 and 1856.
  • Redbook Type:
  • RedBook Collectors Sequence: RB-
  • Unknown Maker, probably Braverman & Levy. Totheroh suggests Joseph Brothers (J.B. & L.B.), 175 Clay St. etc.


Obverse: Circle encircling Arms of California, helmeted female holding spear and shield; bear at feet; mountains behind. All within plain circle; 13 minute stars and 1853 outside of circle.

Reverse: Eagle inside plain circle. CALIFORNIA GOLD HALF DOLLAR. around and outside of circle.

CCJ 10;  EML 21; Burnie 32; Lee 10A; D 300.

More Information
PCGS # 10471
BG Number 435
Grading Service NGC
Year of Issue 1853
Grade MS63
Denom Type California Fractional Gold
Numeric Denomination Gold 50C
Mint Location Private Issue
Designation NONE
Circ/UnCirc Uncirculated
Strike Type Business
Holder Variety BG-435 Arms of California
Grade Add On NONE
Holder Type N/A
Is on Sale No

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