1849 Pacific $5, PCGS VF30. K-4. R-7+. This Territorial, Pacific Company die trial comes in a PCGS OGH (old green holder). The piece is unique at PCGS. The coin is a copper gilt piece that is one of only five known. It is lustrous and bright and shows a strong strike, especially on the reverse. The surfaces are original and show a few marks on each side, which probably keep the coin from an XF grade.
The coin shows a Phrygian cap on a pole surrounded by ten groups of stars and rays. The denomination, written as 5 DOLLARS, is below. The reverse shows a perched eagle with wings upraised facing left. In its talons it grasps a hatchet and olive branch. It is surrounded by the inscription PACIFIC COMPANY, CALIFORNIA. with the date below. The legend is interrupted by the wing tips.
The Pacific Company was an 1849 partnership of thirty-eight people whose goal was to coin gold bullion in California. They arrived in San Francisco on September 16, 1849. The company disbanded before they got to use the dies they had brought from the East. Instead the dies were sold to Broderick & Kohler, which used them to make five and ten dollar coins. When the coins were made at less than their face value, they were refused except at a discount. Soon the whole coinage was melted. The origin of the Pacific Company is a mystery. Several companies could have commissioned the dies used to strike Pacific Company coin. One is the Pacific Mining & Trading Company, which was organized in Richmond, Virginia. They left Richmond on March 16, 1849, sailed around Cape Horn on the ship Marianne and reached San Francisco September 20th. However, there is no indication that this company was in the gold assaying or coining business. Another was the Pacific Mining Co., which was organized in San Francisco with the stated purpose of using a recently purchased steamer, the Chesapeake, to exploit the gold discovered on the beach of Humboldt Bay. However, this company was organized in 1851, and all known “Pacific Company” coins are dated 1849 so it is unlikely that the Pacific Mining Co. issued them. Most likely the coins were made by the Pacific Company. It was formed on January 8, 1849, by Boston merchant John W. Cartwright of 32 India Street. Each of the thirty members contributed one thousand dollars to purchase and outfit the ship York to travel from Boston to San Francisco. The group had to expand to thirty-eight so they would have enough money for the ship. On September 16, 1849, the Pacific Company arrived in California. Shortly afterwards, the company disbanded.
This coin has an R7+ rarity rating, which means that 4 to 6 are known in all conditions. In its population report, PCGS shows this piece, the K-4, 1849 copper die trial in VF30 with no others certified. NGC shows 1 in AU55 condition.
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