California fractional gold pieces

An example of prooflike California fractional gold is this 1856 50-cent coin (BG311) recovered from the SS Central America and now graded PCGS MS68+PL. (Photo by Professional Coin Grading Service www.PCGS.com.)

Professional Coin Grading Service (www.PCGS.com) now will include the certification of PL (Prooflike) and DMPL (Deep Mirror Prooflike) in the grades for California Fractional Gold coins that qualify for those designations.

“PCGS recently examined, authenticated and graded an amazing sunken treasure trove of 112 California fractional gold pieces recovered in 2014 from the fabled ‘Ship of Gold,’ the SS Central America, that sank in 1857,” said PCGS President Don Willis.

“The quality of more than 50 of those coins merited the PL designation, the first time PCGS has ever given that description to any of the more than 27,000 California fractional gold coins we’ve previously graded. We are now making PL and DMPL certification available for any other submitted California fractionals that meet the criteria,” explained Willis.

PCGS defines surface Prooflike as clear reflection in the fields on both sides as viewed from two to four inches away. A misty effect or striations may impede the reflectivity.

The PCGS definition for Deep Mirror Prooflike is clear reflection in the fields on both sides from at least six inches away. There must be full, undistorted reflectivity on both the obverse and reverse.

California fractional gold coins in denominations of 25 and 50 cents and $1 were privately struck primarily by jewelers in San Francisco and elsewhere to alleviate a shortage of small denomination coins during and after the California Gold Rush. There are more than 400 known varieties in dates ranging from 1852 to 1882.

Additional information about this historic numismatic series is available free in the PCGS Population Report at https://www.pcgs.com/pop/detail/california-fractional-gold-1852-1882/1659 and also at PCGSCoinFacts, the Internet’s most comprehensive site for information about United States coins, http://www.pcgscoinfacts.com/Hierarchy.aspx?c=1659&title=California+Fractional+Gold.

Since its founding in 1986, PCGS experts have certified over 38 million coins with a total market value of over $33 billion. For information about PCGS products and services, including how to submit your coins for authentication and grading, visit www.PCGS.com or call PCGS Customer Service at (800) 447-8848.

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