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Pioneer-Era Coins To Gross Half A Million Dollars

Mormon pioneers enter the Salt Lake Valley.

A group of prized gold coins from the Mormon pioneer era are being auctioned off at a coin shop in Salt Lake Thursday, some expected to gross more than $500,000.

Tyson Emery with All About Coins said as pioneers moved West, there was not enough coinage to facilitate trade and they had to come up with their own way of dealing.   

"The way the Mormons did it is they had some of the gold dust from the original gold strike in California," said Emery. "They had some of the members there they brought here it to the valley and made these gold coins."

Emery said the Mormon pioneers made the gold currency in four denominations: a $2½ piece, $5, $10, and $20 pieces.  Emery said records of the LDS church say they only made 46 $10 pieces, making them the rarest. Emery also told media he already has a $375,000 online bid for the rare $10 coin.

Emery said low grade coins can go for $10,000, but says this batch is an unusually large group of high grade coins.

"Usually when we get them we sell one or two at a time. It’s kind of fun to see a whole group of them like this go up for auction, especially when they’re in such good condition," said Emery.

Emery said the batch includes three $2.5 pieces from 1849, $5, $10, and $20 pieces from 1849 and a $5 piece from 1850. He said collectors of the pieces include LDS church members as well as avid coin collectors who are interested in the stories behind the pieces.