United States, Five Dollars, 1854-S

The mint struck eagles and double eagles in some quantity (about 124,000 and 141,000, respectively). But it only minted a handful of quarter eagles (less than 250), and hardly more half eagles. The piece shown here is arguably the finest known. San Francisco expanded production in the next few years, adding silver coinage to the gold, and gradually assumed its position as a major producer of the nation's money.
Made of California gold, this rare coin was one of the first produced at the U.S. Mint branch in San Francisco. The mintmark, "S," is stamped on the reverse. California gold initially had to be shipped for coining to the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, an expensive, slow, and risky undertaking. Meanwhile, private mints made coins that could be used in local markets. With the opening of the San Francisco Mint in 1854, gold could be converted quickly and efficiently into U.S. legal tender.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
issuing authority
U.S. Mint, San Francisco
Physical Description
gold (overall material)
0 (overall die axis)
0 (overall die axis measurement)
struck (overall production method)
overall: 22 mm; 7/8 in
place of issue
United States: California, San Francisco
United States: California
United States: California, San Francisco
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Coins, Currency and Medals
National Treasures exhibit
See more items in
Armed Forces History: National Numismatic Collection
National Treasures exhibit
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Josiah K. Lilly, Jr
Related Publication
Kendrick, Kathleen M. and Peter C. Liebhold. Smithsonian Treasures of American History
Publication title
Treasures of American History online exhibition
Publication author
National Museum of American History
Publication URL

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