An 1850 $5 gold coin issued privately by California assayers Baldwin & Co. highlighted Stack’s Bowers Galleries recent Rarities Night, which was part of the auction house’s 10-session Baltimore Auction this November.
The rarities session, held on Nov. 9, saw the 1850 gold coin bring $15,000 USD (about $19,000 Cdn.) as Lot 10251. Graded Very Fine-30 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., the coin was described by auctioneers as a “handsome example of this rare territorial issue with a bright brassy-gold complexion throughout. … Bold and attractive, there is much to desire about this charming VF piece.”
Beginning as jewellers and watchmakers in San Francisco, Calif., Baldwin & Co. entered the private coining business in March 1850 led by partners George C. Baldwin and Thomas S. Holman; the duo was assuming control of F.D. Kohler & Co.’s operations.
“It was not until May that Baldwin & Co. posted a notice advertising their assay, refining and coining business,” reads the auction catalogue. “In short order, Baldwin & Co. was producing prodigious quantities of $5 and $10 gold pieces. The dies were finely produced and were almost certainly the work of noted engraver Albert Kuner. By early 1851, the San Francisco Herald reported that Baldwin & Co.’s output nearly matched that of the United States Assay Office of Gold.”
According to auctioneers, the $5 coin “closely resembles the federal half eagle, but the 1850 $10 bears Kuner’s famed ‘Vaquero’ obverse with a mounted cowboy swinging a lasso.”