Important News! CoinLink has merged..... Visit our NEW Site www.CoinWeek.com

BREAKING NEWS:....... Vist Our NEW Site at CoinWeek.com

All Posts Tagged With: "Coin Collecing"

Previously Unknown Specimen of 1855 $50 Kellogg & Co. Fifty Dollar available at Heritage Boston ANA Coin Auction

In the words of B. Max Mehl, the Kellogg & Co. fifty dollar gold pieces are “the most beautiful of all Pioneer gold coins and one of the rarest.” While Heritage has handled Kellogg fifties on several occasions in the past, we take particular pleasure in offering this specimen, which seems to match none of the previously known examples of this extraordinary issue. A “new” Kellogg fifty is a numismatic landmark and an unparalleled opportunity for the Territorial gold collector.

For more than a century, numismatists have puzzled over the purpose of the Kellogg fifties and exactly how many were struck. All known specimens were minted in proof format, suggesting they may have served as presentation pieces for bankers and politicians: They were struck when the firm was considering a large business strike mintage to compete with the fifty dollar pieces of their competitors, Wass, Molitor and Company. The “regular-issue” coins never materialized, but the proof production has delighted and puzzled collectors since the coins appeared.

One disputed question about the Kellogg proof fifties has been the number struck. The proprietors of Kellogg & Co., John Glover Kellogg and Augustus Humbert, were partners in 1855. Both of them retained several examples of the Kellogg fifties long after they dissolved their partnership in 1860. Kellogg’s heirs, including his son Karl, remained in possession of three coins many years after Kellogg’s death in 1886. Humbert, who died in 1873, left his collection to his brother, Pierre. When Pierre died in 1901, his heirs sold the collection to Captain Andrew C. Zabriskie. As Henry Chapman relates in the introduction to the Zabriskie Collection (Henry Chapman, 6/1909):

“Capt. Zabriskie some years ago had the good fortune to purchase from his executors the collection of coins left by Mr. Humbert, the California Assayer, and from which collection he derived many of the most remarkable Pioneer Gold Coins, which , added to his collection that had been forming for many years, makes his Pioneer Gold the best ever offered at public sale.”

Later in the sale, Chapman described the Kellogg fifty in lot 341, which realized $1,250, a huge price at the time. To quote his description in part:

“Sharp, beautiful specimen. The finest known, as Capt. Zabriskie had his choice of the six which Mr. Humbert had preserved. So far as I am aware, it is possible about 10 are known, in fact, this is the number it is said was coined.”

Chapman thus reveals the startling fact that Humbert saved at least six specimens of this issue until his death. We can only wonder what Humbert’s purpose was, since $300 was a large sum in 1855, too large to tie up in souvenirs. Whatever his reasons, he deserves the thanks of all Pioneer gold collectors for preserving so many of these wonderful coins. In his catalog of Humbert’s collection, which he sold in 1902, Chapman mentioned one specimen in the collection of J.W. Scott, which would be the 10th coin in his census, after the three kept by Kellogg’s family and the six in Humbert’s estate.

The trouble with Chapman’s roster is this: More than 10 specimens have always been known to numismatists since the coins surfaced. The census of known examples has gone up and down over the years, but most catalogers agree at least 13 pieces were struck, even if fewer examples seemed to be extant at a particular time. With the appearance of the present coin, we have a pictorial record of what seem to be 14 different coins. (more…)