NGC Grades Extremely Rare 1876 Fractional Gold Piece

Posted on 5/13/2014

The 1876 Octagonal California Fractional Gold 25 Cent BG-799GG variety features a reverse that was unknown until 2009.

NGC has certified the second known example of the 1876 Octagonal California Fractional Gold 25 Cents BG-799GG variety. This extremely rare variety was undiscovered until 2009 and a second piece was subsequently identified. The second specimen is graded NGC MS 65 PL

California Fractional Gold pieces were privately minted by jewelers and other merchants in 25 cent, 50 cent and one dollar denominations starting in 1852. By 1858 these pieces were likely no longer needed for circulation, but new varieties were struck as souvenirs of the California Gold Rush.

NGC attributes these issues by “BG” number after Walter Breen and Ronald J. Gillio’s California Fractional Gold reference book. Unlisted in that catalog, BG-799GG shares an obverse with varieties BG-799A through BG-799D, but features a previously unknown reverse. This rare reverse die is distinguished by the recutting on the “D” of “DOLLAR” and has a unique leaf pattern. Both BG-799GG examples have a significantly rotated reverse.

1876 Octagonal California Fractional Gold 25 Cents BG-799GG
Click images to enlarge.

The maker of this California Fractional Gold piece was Christopher Ferdinand Mohrig of San Francisco, the minter of other varieties listed as BG-790 through BG-799V. Mohrig was arrested by the Secret Service on August 10, 1876 for violating a 1864 law outlawing privately issued coinage. His dies and inventory of coins were confiscated and ultimately destroyed, which explains the rarity of several varieties of coins struck by Mohrig.

In a series as vast as California Fractional Gold, there still exist opportunities to discover new varieties or locate rare specimens. The thrill of the hunt only adds to the excitement of this diverse and historically significant group of coins.

1876 Octagonal California Fractional Gold 25 Cents BG-799GG
Click images to enlarge.

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