California gold coinage

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California gold coinage was produced from the early 1850s until 1882. In the early period, from roughly 1852 through 1856, the coins were made for actual use due to a lack of familiar small denomination currency in the California gold fields.[1] This shortage eased around 1856 and the gold coins made in the later period appear to have been intended only as souvenirs. They generally show little circulation wear and contain less gold than would be expected from their face value.

California gold was made in denominations of $1, 50 cents, and 25 cents. As a result, the coins were quite small. Some are round; others octagonal. They were issued by private businesses, usually jewelers, and were often hand-struck.


  1. ^ Rawls, James, J. and Richard J. Orsi, eds. (1999). A golden state: mining and economic development in Gold Rush California. California History Sesquicentennial, 2. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. p. 212. ISBN 0-520-21771-3. 

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