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1860 Mormon Five Dollar

Image Information

Type Coin
Title 1860 Mormon Five Dollar
Date 1860
Grade MS60
Service NGC
Service Catalog # 10268
Denomination $5

1860 $5 Mormon Five Dollar -- Obverse Improperly Cleaned -- NGC Details. Unc. K-6, High R.5. The Mormons in Utah had a similar territorial experience with gold dust and later coinage to that of Oregon. No gold was discovered in either locale, but both benefited from California Gold Rush miners and would-be miners who passed through. Remnants of the Mormon Battalion from the Mexican War had been among the first to discover gold in California in 1848. Most returned to the Mormon Territory, some with plentiful gold dust. Church elders discouraged congregants from leaving the Utah community, and were content to benefit from trade with others passing through on their way to or from the gold fields in California. Five, ten, and twenty dollar gold coins were struck in 1849, and a single five dollar denomination was produced in 1850. Ten years passed before the 1860 half eagles were struck. The gold for the 1860 coins is supposed to have come from mines in Colorado, where a gold rush began in 1858. The gold dust was about .917 (22-karat) fine, purer than the California gold that was used for the older Mormon coinage. The obverse design was distinctive with a crouching lion that may have originated in a display atop the "Lion House" social building on South Temple Street in Salt Lake City. The obverse legend is rendered in a newly invented alphabet for a proposed Deseret language and is translated "Holiness to the Lord." The reverse displays an eagle with a beehive, a symbol of the church, covering its breast. Circling around are the words DESERET ASSAY OFFICE PURE GOLD. Unlike the 1849-1850 issues, records were kept of the 1860-dated five dollar production. Only 472 pieces were struck from February 8 to March 9, 1861. When Utah's first non-Mormon territorial governor, Alfred Gumming, heard of the coins, he put a quick stop to the project. The earlier 1849-1850 Mormon issues were struck from debased gold planchets. The 1860-dated half eagles were struck from much higher-quality planchets. Nevertheless, regardless of when they were struck, most Mormon gold eventually came into the U.S. Treasury and was melted to turn into U.S. Mint coins. Light hairlines are seen on the obverse of this piece, as indicated by the NGC disclaimer, and muted reddish-gold color covers that side. The reverse is untouched by cleaning and exhibits bright, lemon-gold color. Ex: Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.

Heritage Newman IX, November 2017, lot 15118, realized $54000. Images and description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

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Image Collection Eric P. Newman Collection, Part IX
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