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California Fractional $1/4 1855


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The distance from the mints and commerce of the East was so great that low value coinage often did not find it's way west. Whereas cents, and three cent coins circulated in the east, usually in the West the lowest value coin in circulation was a quarter, which also reflected higher prices in the West due to transport costs.


But even moderately valued coins were in short supply and some enterprising firms in California began issuing small value gold coinage in the early 1850's. This was soon ceased however as more coin shipments from the East arrived and the San Francisco mint opened in 1854.


After that time coins continued to be issued by some individuals, mainly as souvenirs or jewelry pieces. Whereas the first coins were of .900 fine gold and were appropriate, the latter issues were often of only 10 karat gold and did not have the denominations worth of metallic content in them.


This particular piece appears to be one of the first phase coins, one that was minted for actual circulation. However it is actually a .900 fine piece that was quite possibly actually struck in the 1890's by a firm by the name of Kroll in NYC. These were apparently fine gold jewelry pieces, and actually convinced many contemporarely that they were in fact authentic Gold Rush era. These early pieces struck with these dies were actually .900 fine gold, but the dies were subsequently sold to other individuals that struck coins in heavily debased gold and then finally in gold plated base metals.

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