Precious Metals

Gold Investing

A gold coin that was thought to be fake has been authenticated by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation and now has a price tag in the millions.

A New England man received a huge surprise when a gold coin he owned and thought to be fake turned out to be real with a value in the millions.

The small coin, which originated at the San Francisco Mint during the California Gold Rush in 1854, has been authenticated as only the fourth known example of a US$5-denomination coin.

The historical piece was certified by the world’s largest rare coin authentication company, Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), based in Florida.

“[The owner] was stunned when we informed him that it is a genuine, multi-million dollar rare coin. He had shown it to a few collectors and dealers at a recent coin show, but everybody said they thought it was a fake because until now there were only three genuine surviving 1854 San Francisco Mint $5 gold pieces known,” explained Mark Salzberg, NGC chairman.

The gold piece is slightly smaller than a modern quarter-dollar and is 164 years old.

NGC estimates that the coin’s present-day value stands at millions of dollars and stated, “it’s like finding an original Picasso at a garage sale. It’s the discovery of a lifetime.”

“Our initial reaction on examining the coin was utter disbelief that a rarity of this magnitude could still be discovered in this era,” said NGC President Rick Montgomery. “But upon seeing the coin in person for the first time it was apparent that the coin is genuine,” he added.

According to Gizmodo, one of the three known US$5 coins was stolen from the Du Pont family in 1967 and was never recovered. To ensure the newly discovered piece was not that missing coin, NGC compared it to high-resolution photos from the Smithsonian Institution, where one of the coins is held.

“We look for common things that you’ll see between the coins,” said Montgomery. He noted, “you’ll see the four in the digit is slightly attenuated or not as high in relief as the regular part of the four. We noticed that was exactly the same as the Smithsonian piece.”

It is not known at this time what the owner plans to do with the coin.

As of 8:31 a.m. EST on Thursday (April 26), gold was trading at US$1322.70 per ounce.

Photo credit: Numismatic Guaranty Corporation,

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Securities Disclosure: I, Nicole Rashotte, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.  


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