US California Full Weight Half Eagle (Counterfeit) 1849
These coins are a real piece of history! Minted with gold from mines opened in the California Gold Rush, they represent a period in the history of the US with plenty of growth and expansion.
When genuine, these coins are 22 millimeters in diameter, and weigh 8.418 grams. If you are not sure if your coin is real, get a precise weight and see if it comes out 8.418 grams. If it does not, it's a fake. A jeweler or coin shop owner will also be able to accurately measure and weigh the coin.
The catalogs are kind to these coins, reporting values of $6500 US dollars when average circulated, and above $30,000 when fully uncirculated. Though made of gold, these coins are uninteresting as bullion, and incredibly collectible.
Counterfeits of these coins are common, and it's not likely that your coin is genuine, especially when reported with little or no wear. The images below compare real and fake coins. The primary difference is the marked low quality of the fake when compared to the high quality of the real item.
Counterfeits made of genuine gold are known. One variety is 23 millimeters in diameter and weighs 6.883 grams. It is worth its weight in gold. At 0.221 troy ounces and a current gold price of $1415 US dollars per troy ounce (use a site like kitco.com
to check the current gold value, it changes from day to day), each of these coins will be worth 0.221 x 1415 = $313 US dollars.
You mention your coin as 'small'. While these were not huge coins, they weren't exactly small either. You may have a privately minted token made of brass. These are smaller than the real coins at 20 mm, and catalog around $125 US dollars. A few have sold at web auctions around $50 in average circulated condition.
Some of the small tokens may be minted in gold. If your coin is exceptionally shiny and has no corrosion (real gold doesn't corrode!), it would be wise to take it to a jeweler or coin shop where an professional can take an in-hand look in the coin, and determine the material it is made of.
Remember to read the 'Important Terminology' page on the top left in order to properly interpret the catalog values provided on this page.
, Genre: United States
Requested by: Ryan McCannon, Thu, 06-Jun-2013 19:14:44 GMT
Answered by: Paul, Thu, 10-Oct-2013 16:25:02 GMT
Last review by CoinQuest: Mon, 25-May-2015 00:59:52 GMT
Requester description: 1849 California gold without alloy around a half eagle on one side and starting outside in, full weight of half eagle, stars all the way around, then N. G. & N. San Francisco and date in middle of coin.
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