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August 1, 2014

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1849 Mormon gold coin fetches $705K at auction

SALT LAKE CITY — A $10 Mormon gold coin fetched $705,000, and a $20 Mormon gold coin sold for $558,000 at auction this week.

They were the rarest of a seven-piece collection of Mormon coins made in 1849 that brought in nearly $2 million at an auction staged by Dallas-based Heritage Auctions.

The territorial coins, put up for sale by a collector, went to an undisclosed buyer. Bidding ended Thursday night.

Tyson Emery, a coin expert at All About Coins in Salt Lake City, said coins and currency were scare when Mormon pioneers arrived in Utah in 1847, and the settlers began making their own coins primarily to buy goods from the East.

"The gold that they used to make these Mormon gold coins came from the original California gold strike, probably right from the American River at Sutter's Mill," he told the Deseret News.

Only 46 of the $10 gold coins were made, and just a few are still around. Emery had predicted the $10 piece would sell for at least $500,000.

The equipment used to make the coins was crude, and not a lot of coins were made as a result. While rare, Mormon coins are put up for sale from time to time, Emery said.

Mormon currency came in denominations including $2½, $5, $10 and $20. Simple and rugged designs showed clasped hands, with uneven lettering and numbers.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints History Museum has a replica display featuring coins, dies and other equipment.

The prices for the other coins that were sold at auction this week ranged from $64,625 to $235,000.

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