California Fractional Gold
California Fractional Gold The origins of the fractional gold coins from California came about in 1848 with the discovery of gold in California. Once this discovery became known the rush was on to California to strike it rich. It is estimated that over 300,000 people traveled to California to begin their careers as gold miners. Some were successful and many were not. With this sudden influx of people there was a boom in demand for the necessities of life, such as, a place to eat, sleep, and have some fun.
Early in the gold boom, a pinch of gold was used to purchase a beer at the local saloon; this method of payment didn’t work all that well. Until modern times, the US had been plagued with a chronic lack of coinage to take care of day to day transactions in the community. The California of the 1840’s and 1850’s was no exception.
Out of this shortage of small currency, the California Fractional gold coins were born, but little is known on how much they impacted the economic community. They are one of the most overlooked numismatic collectables on the market today. Primed to move, only to be slowed down by a small supply. Most savvy collectors put together “short sets” that include- one- 25c denomination, one- 50c denomination, and one- $1 Dollar denomination. California Fractional gold or Cal gold coins were minted by private individuals, primarily by the Jewelers in San Francisco to meet the commercial needs, and they were legal up until 1864. As time progressed from the early days of the 1850’s up until the early 1900’s the purpose and style of the coins changed. Denominations included 25c, 50c, and $1 Dollar.
Most if the fractional coins were made by the hammer method. This was a process of striking where the bottom die was placed on a block, a coin blank was laid upon it, and the top die was then struck by a sledgehammer. Strikes of varying intensity would produce coins that were well or weakly struck.
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