50 Dollars, United States, 1877

Patterns and experimental pieces form one of the most interesting groups of specimens associated with official coinage. It was customary for the Mint to provide samples of a proposed coin. More patterns were made in 1877 than in any other year. The Gold Rush in California prompted the merchants and bankers in San Francisco to lobby Congress for gold pieces of high denomination for quick counting purposes when a branch mint was established in their city in 1854. The design for the proposed large coin was similar to the $20 double eagle. Senator William Gwin of California introduced a bill for the adoption of this coin. His bill passed the Senate but failed to win approval in the House of Representatives. Although the coin was not approved, the proposal for such a large coin was feasible only after enough of the precious metal was available with the discovery of vast quantities in California. The depiction of Liberty on the obverse was a familiar symbol of national identity by 1877 for Americans.
Object Name
pattern coin
date made
U.S. Mint
Physical Description
gold (overall material)
overall: .3 cm x 5.11 cm; 1/8 in x 2 in
place made
United States
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Coins, Currency and Medals
See more items in
Armed Forces History: National Numismatic Collection
The Value of Money
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Transfer from the United States Mint
Publication title
Glossary of Coins and Currency Terms
Publication URL
Additional Media

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