The popular PCGS Price Guide (www.pcgs.com/prices) now includes listings for California Fractional Gold coins. It is the only comprehensive online resource available for market values of this historic series of small 25-cent, 50-cent and one dollar denomination gold coins privately struck from 1852 to 1882.
The authoritative guide lists average dealer asking prices for PCGS-graded coins. Prices are compiled from various sources including dealer advertisements, fixed price lists, web site offerings, significant auctions and activity at major coin shows as well as input from dealer specialists and expert collectors.
“The California Fraction Gold series sections include notations from PCGS experts on estimated known surviving examples of rare varieties. Some varieties are quite rare with fewer than a dozen known examples, and some are unique with no other known coins of that type or variety,” said PCGS President Don Willis.
According to Don Kagin, a PCGS expert consultant and author of Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States, more than 450 varieties of California Fractional Gold coins are known. They were produced primarily by jewelers in San Francisco, Leavenworth, Kansas and perhaps also in New York and New Orleans to meet the commercial need for small-denomination coinage in the booming Gold Rush era communities in northern California. However, there is no evidence that the tiny coins were widely circulated.
“Most of 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 upon the blank; this top die was then struck by a sledgehammer. Blows of varying intensity would cause potions of one side or edge to be more weakly struck than another. Many varieties are very crude in design. Other pieces were holed and strung on gold or copper wires to prevent loss or used for watch fobs, etc.,” Kagin wrote in his reference book.
The direct link to the California Fraction Gold section of the PCGS Price Guide is here.
Prices in the PCGS Price guide apply only to PCGS-graded coins and are intended as a guide to assist the coin-buying public in determining values for all important United States rare coins. The prices listed in PCGS Price Guide are average dealer asking prices for PCGS-graded coins.