BG- 501, 1853/54 California Gold Rush Circulating Fractional Gold $1, Liberty Head Eagle Reverse PCGS MS63 R5


Very rare undated issue with rich golden patina struck by Frontier, Deviercy & Co. of San Francisco, circa 1853-54.

There have been 48 of them graded by PCGS, with 5 in MS63 and one (MS64) finer. NGC has graded 7 with MS64 being the finest. Obverse features coroneted Liberty head derivative of the federal gold issues of its day, surrounded by 13 stars. The reverse presents an eagle, shield, branch, and banner that was inspired by the obverse design of the famed Humbert $50 slugs that circulated in California at the time. This motif no doubt helped promote the acceptance of this issue as an instrument of commerce, for many of the documented survivors are indeed circulated. The 'O' in CALIFORNIA is widely repunched. Research tells us that among the earliest auction sales of this issue occurred in Woodward's November 1862 sale of the Finotti Collection (lot 1694). Described as "a very rare type," it fetched $1.50. CCJ 1; Burnie 1, EML 1, Lee 1A; D 408.


1850 Woman and Men in California Gold Rush.jpg

Three men and one woman panning for gold during the California Gold Rush. Gold from the California Gold Rush was used to make this coin. 

In the PCGS Coin Facts page on this issue, Ron Guth defers to Barry Sunshine, well-known collector and student of California Fractional Gold, who has the following to say of the BG-501:

BG-501 is a very desirable coin with California Fractional collectors because is it a One Dollar coin with the popular Eagle Reverse. This is the only Period One Octagonal Dollar that doesn’t have a date. This coin is believed to be a Low Rarity 5 with about 65 to 75 known to exist. PCGS alone has graded nearly four dozen, with just a handful of Mint State pieces among them. Finding a Mint State example is possible with some patience and many believe it’s worth the pursuit. If you are putting together a type set of California fractional, then you would probably want to acquire a BG-501 because of the coin’s beauty and its rarity.



No Date (c.1853-54) Gold $1 Dollar Liberty Head Octagonal, Rarity-5.

  • Period One - circulating issues between 1852 and 1856.
  • Redbook Type: Large Liberty Head / Large Eagle.
  • RedBook Collectors Sequence: RB-0
  • Made by Frontier-Deviercy.


Obverse: Large head; 13 stars; 1st star to left and slightly above point of bust.

Reverse: CALIFORNIA GOLD. ONE DOL. around large eagle with branch, shield, arrows and scroll.

CCJ 1; Burnie 1, EML 1, Lee 1A; D 408.

More Information
PCGS # 10478
BG Number 501
Grading Service NONE
Year of Issue NONE
Grade NONE
Denom Type N/A
Numeric Denomination Gold $1
Mint Location NONE
Designation NONE
Circ/UnCirc Not Specified
Strike Type N/A
Holder Variety BG-501 Eagle
Grade Add On NONE
Holder Type N/A
Is on Sale No

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