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KIERSTEAD, Jeff    PNG #699 since 2011


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MintProducts.com, Internet Coin Dealer, Bedford, NH

MintProducts.com :: U.S. GOLD COINS :: California Gold Tokens

California Gold Tokens

What are California Gold Tokens?
They are tiny gold (usually 10 karat) tokens issued from around the 1880’s through 1915 or so (though many were backed dated to as early as 1849) they closely resemble the California gold coins issued earlier. Like the coins, the tokens usually have an Indian or Liberty head on the obverse and a wreath with the denomination or “California Gold” on the reverse. The earlier coins were issued by private companies starting in 1852 and were intended to make up for a shortage of currency out west, while the later coins and tokens were sold as souvenirs to those who visited the “wild west”.
How do I know if it is a coin or a token?
As a rule, the coins have the denomination spelled out: “Dollar”, “Doll.” or “Dol. “ etc. The tokens, in order to comply with a federal law enacted in 1864 (but not enforced until 1871) could not have “dollar” in any form, so the tokens simply used ¼, ½ , 1 , “one” or left off the denomination entirely. In 1883 the laws changed again and it was found that the Indian head and Liberty head tokens too closely resembled circulating coinage, so designs with the California coat of arms, miners, and other themes became popular. It has been found that a number of tokens share obverse dies with the coins and these “hybrids” are popular with collectors and in fact are quite scarce.
I’ve seen these tokens for sale for just a few dollars. Why are yours much more?
Adding to the California Gold confusion is the fact that hundreds of thousands (or perhaps a million or more) modern imitations of these tokens exist. Most of the imitations were sold as novelties and were not intended to fool collectors, though it turns out many beginners were fooled. These fakes are not made of gold, but of a base metal such as brass. Some are gold plated but most rely on the golden color of brass to give the token the appearance of being gold. The replicas are also much thicker than the near paper thin coins and most genuine gold tokens. After seeing a genuine coin or token it becomes very easy to differentiate between the replicas and the genuine article. One of the most popular designs on the fakes includes a bear. If you see a California Gold token with a bear on it there is a very good chance it is a modern non-gold replica with little or no value. A survey of online auctions will show hundreds of the fakes for sale. Some are being sold as fakes, while some are offered as genuine gold tokens.
Why collect California Gold tokens?
For years, the confusion surrounding the differences between coins, tokens and fakes kept most collectors away and made it nearly impossible to market this interesting series. Recently, NGC (Numismatic Guarantee Corp.) began certifying some of the earlier genuine gold tokens. With certified tokens (in limited numbers) now on the market, the series is commanding more attention than ever. Because the tokens have had nowhere near the research done on them that the coins have had, many believe that with more information coming out and the scarcity of many issues coming to light, the prices will have nowhere to go but up! Confusion in days gone by and profit potential aside, California Gold Tokens are an affordable (relatively speaking) alternative to their older cousins, the California Gold Coins, and are wonderful examples of western Americana.
About our tokens:
The tokens we offer here are all from a single collection that was put together by our owner over a period of 20 years. The collection includes many rarities, as well as some of the highest grade examples available. Our total offering will eventually be over 100 pieces.

Current Metals Market:

Gold bid 1250.50 , chg -4.50 ; Silver bid 16.29 , chg -0.18 @ Jul 25, 5:44:06 am EST

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