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Token: US One Half California Gold  1852
Token: US One Half California Gold 1852

The subject of California fractional gold coins and tokens is very complex. Originally, during the famous California gold rush of the mid 1800s, fortune seekers found themselves in then-remote California with a little gold, but no money. Standard US gold coinage denominated as low as 2 1/2 dollars, but that was way too much for small transactions. Private mints started making small 'fractions of a dollar' gold tokens worth (usually) 25 and 50 cents. Original Cal Gold coins and tokens are avidly collected and are worth hundreds or thousands of US dollars today. A good place to learn about them is Mike Locke's page.

The subject token, shown in our picture, is not an original item from 1852. Instead, it was minted much later and back-dated to 'gold rush' times. It is not pure gold, but a low-quality gold alloy. It does not bear the denomination 'one half dollar' as that would violate Federal law. It is very thin, very small, and weighs very little. Typical values for the pictured token run like this:

worn: $10 US dollars approximate catalog value
average circulated: $20
well preserved: $35

To further complicate the subject, many Cal Gold fakes and counterfeits were manufactured to sell to tourists and as gifts and souvenirs. These are generally worth $1 or $2.

Images from requester Tania:

Coin: 21578 , Genre: Tokens
Requested by: Tania, Tue, 20-Sep-2016 01:41:42 GMT
Answered by: Paul, Wed, 21-Sep-2016 01:55:32 GMT
Requester description: 1852 Front: profile of lady with long curly hair and a tiarra of somekind. 13 stars or flowers around the lady's head.
Back: ONE-HALF CALIFORNIA GOLD is written around the outside of coin, a wreath is in center of the back of coin, 1852 appears in the wreath. one-half (not sure of how much) Back: ONE-HALF CALIFORNIA GOLD 1852
Front: no words
Tags: token us usa one half california gold tokens toke ones goldish golden goldenen front lady woman curly curl hair tiarra crown stars star flowers flower head wreath center offcenter empress lsdy femal women female feminine womans girls females womens ladys princess girl ladies curls hairdo hairline crowned tiara crwon crpwn crowns crowning tiera starrs florets blossom fler fleurs lises leis lisse flur folwers stems trefoils floral lily orchid posy bouquet fllower flour bud lilly fleur bloomed trefoil floret floer stem flowery lilys fluer fleures pedals greenery wreathed rief reif reef wreathe wreat garland wreth wreah wreaths off centers centered

  

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Fri, 02-Dec-2016 19:50:56 GMT, unknown: 10821031