There are basically three accepted categories of California Gold. The first category consists of genuine pieces minted between 1852 and 1882. These pieces MUST have the word DOLLAR, DOLL, DOL, or CENTS on the reverse. Most are referenced in the California Pioneer Fractional Gold guide by Walter Breen and Ronald Gillio. This reference can sometimes be difficult to obtain as limited quantities were produced in either of the two Edition printings. The most recent edition is the 2003 2nd edition printed. Copies can be found periodically on the internet for sale. The American Numismatic Association(ANA) Library has at least one copy for checkout. We do handle a copy or two periodically for sale but it’s very difficult to maintain a steady stock. Calif gold rarities generally range from R1 thru R8 and Unique(1 known to exist) with R8 being the rarest or least number of pieces known to exist. R-1 = over 1,250 pieces; R-2 = 501 to 1,249; R-3 = 201 to 501; R-4 = 76 to 200; R-5 = 31 to 75; R-6 = 13 to 30; R-7 = 5 to 12; R-8 = 2 to 4 known to exist. There are LOW and HIGH variations beginning at R-4 & going to R-8.

The second category consists of hybrid tokens, not considered fractional gold, minted mainly by jewelers between 1882 and the 1920s. Made usually of real gold, these pieces were normally backdated prior to 1882. Most were well made & emulated the fractional gold pieces. One main item differentiated these pieces and that was the absence of the word DOLLAR, DOLL, DOL, or CENTS on the reverse as required on the category one pieces. The reverses would normally only show ¼, ½, Charm, star, and a bear. California Gold Tokens, while not as valuable as genuine fractionals, are still quite scarce and collectible. Pricing can range from $25 to several thousand dollars depending upon their variety, condition, and rarity.

The final or third category is referred to as modern tokens or fantasies. While they share the Indian and Liberty Head designs along with early dates, they are normally not struck in gold but in brass or pot metal. Again they lack the word DOLLAR, DOLL, DOL, or CENTS on the reverse. These sometimes can be confusing to the uneducated collector. Please do not overpay for these very common non-gold pieces. Above all, please do not hesitate to contact us for our professional opinion, as it is always FREE. Even if it is an item from our competition or listed at an auction or on eBay. Just include the eBay item number or auction lot number and shoot us an email or text. Photos are always helpful.

We could get more technical in the history and makers of the above general information on California fractionals and tokens, but that would take pages of print.