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Dubosq & Company – San Francisco – 1850

Learn About Dubosq and Company

Many of the firms that went to California seeking riches were barely legitimate while others were outright scammers. But the firm of Dubosq & Company was highly respected, which was most unusual. Theodore Dubosq was an ethical and respected jeweler from Philadelphia.

Dubosq brought with him a coining operation – machinery for the melting of gold dust and ore, as well as a coining press and other equipment he would need. The need for striking private gold coins was immense in California at that time. Dubosq and his equipment arrived there in 1849.

But there are no known Dubosq coins dated 1849. The few coins that exist are all dated in 1850. The only 1849-dated coins were $2.50 gold coins and $5.00 gold coins struck as patterns in copper. No gold coins or patterns otherwise exist. There is only a tiny quantity of $5.00 and $10.00 gold coins in existence today.

 Some numismatists suspect that United States Mont Engraver James B. Longacre may have engraved the 1850 Dubosq issues. The reasons for that are that they bear a striking similarity to the federal coins of that era and Longacre had several Dubosq pattern coins in his estate. Did he create them or did he buy them as a novelty? No one knows for certain.

A newspaper of that era, the Alta California, reported that Dubosq and Company reportedly made approximately 10,000 of the $10.00 gold coins and 10,000 of the $5.00 denominated coins, striking $150,000 face value of his coinage.  

However, the coins which had circulated widely and were very well received were soon discredited by the assayer Augustus Humbert. Because the coins were alloyed with silver Humbert believed that to separate the silver from the gold would be a waste of time as the value of the silver was less than the cost to separate them. While true, he ignored the argument that the value of the silver, as well as the gold together, exceeded the face value of the coins. This information permanently discredited the Dubosq coins and the overwhelming majority of them were melted.

The coins did look like their federal counterparts with Miss Liberty, facing left on the obverse. 13 six-pointed stars were around the periphery and the date was on the bottom periphery. “DUBOSQ & CO,” was on Miss Liberty’s coronet.

The reverse of the coins had an eagle with upstretched wings and an olive branch and arrows in either talon. Around the periphery of the reverse were the words “S. M. V. CALIFORNIA GOLD” and the denomination at the bottom “FIVE D.” or “TEN D.”

There exist today only 3 to 5 known $5.00 gold coins and only 8 – 10 known $10.00 gold coins. They are all exceedingly scarce.

No image is available of the $5.00 Dubosq & Company gold coin. Below is a rare $10.00 Gold coin from that same company.

(A $10.00 Dubosq & Company, $10.00 Gold coin, Obverse [left], reverse [right].)

DateTypeMintageFine ValueVF Value
1850$5.003-5 Known$250,000$500,000
1850$10.008-10 Known$175,000$325,000

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