USA, cheap imitation of California gold coin


USA, imitation, no date, (1960s?), Obverse: liberty bust L, BALDWIN on ribbon, 1851, 13 stars, Reverse: eagle, S.M.V. CALIFORNIA GOLD TWENTY D., Edge: reeded, bronzed gray metal electrotype, 32mm, 18.2g, edge nicks, VF

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Crude copy of popular pioneer gold coin.

There is this class of crude imitations of rare coins made for unknown purposes. Someone cut two sides of a mould, melted some metal, poured it, then plated it. What for? In Japan they used to make tourist folders with old coins. They’d often put some picturesque imitations with the real coins to add interest. The purpose of this thing was to get picked up and looked at, nothing more.

There are two kinds of things that are called “medals.” One is things that look like coins but don’t express a value. Sometimes those medals are considerably larger than most coins. The other kind of medal is a metal thing designed to be displayed on one’s chest, often a reward for something, often in a military context. If the medal is small enough it is sometimes called a “medallet.”

The word “exonumia” is used to describe all kinds of things that are “like” coins but are not coins. I wrote a blog post on that subject. Basic categories: 1. used like a coin but not issued by a national government, 2. looks like a coin but not made for spending, 3. other things that we are interested in.