California Gold Fractional Coins

Posted by Derek Sawchenko on

There was not enough change during the California Gold Rush. In 1852, jewelers began manufacturing small gold coins on their own. These coins are known as the California Fractional Gold Coins.  The coins are divided into groups based on the dates they were struck. The three groups include the following: Period One (1852 – 1856), Period Two (1859 – 1882), and Period Three (early 1900s). There are many varieties of gold coins within the periods. Coins of Period One and Period Two have denominations. They were mostly dollar coins with either a fraction of a quarter or a half dollar.  The Coinage Act, which went into effect on April 22, 1864, made it illegal to mint coins outside of the United States Mint. The coins from 1883 and on do not have denominations. Californian jewelers continued to sell the Californian Fractional Gold Coins as souvenir tokens. Early designs of the coins included a portrait of the Indian or Lady Liberty with the denomination on the other side of the coin. Later, coins did not include the denomination; instead, the coins were marked as “1/2 cal gold coin”. These coins are collectible but do not have much value. It is important to watch out for counterfeit copies of the coin.

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