All sorts of unusual gold coinage sprung up as a result of the famous California gold rush of 1849. One of the most famous coins to come out of this era is the Horseman (Vacquero) design by Baldwin and Company of San Francisco. It is an amazing coin and one that deserves special mention.
Genuine, original Baldwin Horsemen are extremely valuable. The coin catalogs quote values such as $60000 US dollars in average circulated condition and $95000 in well preserved condition. A publicized example in uncirculated condition realized $195000 in a Goldberg Auction.
Two things happen with wildly valuable coins: (1) they are counterfeited and (2) they are legally copied.
The image to the left is a crude cast replica of a Baldwin Horseman. As a counterfeit, it is worth zero. You might find one in a novelty shop for a few dollars. There is a full-sized, side-by-side comparison below on this page.
But there are legal copies of these famous coins and legal copies can be valuable, especially when made of gold. The coin in our main picture comes from Heritage Auctions. It is a beautiful modern proof reproduction and, since it is struck in gold, it is worth well over $1000. You can see in small print on the coin the date and the source of the gold: 2002 and the S. S. Central America.
But other, non-modern replicas are around as well. They are usually called restrikes because they copy the original pattern and carry the original date, but they were not made on that date. Our first example was made in 2002, so it is worth primarily its gold value. But other examples (not shown) were made as early as 1909 and these can be quite valuable. A 1909 restrike piece from Heritage Auctions, struck in silver instead of gold, sold for over $6000. It is rumored that Ron Landis, a well-known sculptor of the Gallery Mint Museum has created a horseman piece. It would carry a premium over gold value due to Ron's recognized expertise.
So, in summary:
GENUINE ORIGINAL COINS: $60000 and up
EARLY RESTRIKES: $5000 and up
MODERN RESTRIKES: $1000 and up (price varies with gold market)
To reach these price levels, the coin must be free of all problems, such as scratches, stains, cleanings, nicks, gouges, corrosion, and similar.